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Over the River and Through the Wood: Defining Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America

Over the River and Through the Wood: Defining Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America

Many holiday songs draw on our nostalgia for a time past. The music of the season draws on our collective memory of a simpler time, whether that be childhood or the idealized historical past. Although originally written as a poem describing childhood anticipation for the Thanksgiving celebration at grandfather’s house, over time Over the River and Through the Wood has transformed into a song firmly associated with Christmas, sleigh rides, and grandmother’s cooking. The lyrics of the song conjure images of idealized domestic scenes, such as the farmyard depicted in the Currier and Ives print of John Schutler’s Home to Thanksgiving. The final two verses depict a similar scene to Schutler’s painting, revealing a child’s eagerness for family gatherings, grandmother’s love, and, of course, pumpkin pie. Read More.

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