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Dress the Colonial Way!
Dressing up in costumes isn't just for Halloween anymore! Celebrate Thanksgiving with a traditional Pilgrim costume! Or performing in a school play about the first Thanksgiving? Find the perfect costume for men, women, and children here on this lens!
What Is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a traditional North American holiday to give thanks at the conclusion of the harvest season. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.
The tradition stems from the early colonists who settled in the New World. After a hard first winter, they received help from the Abnaki Indians Samoset and Squanto. They helped and taught what crops to plant and how to make them grow. After the first harvest there was a great deal to celebrate so the Pilgrims threw a 3-day party and invited their Indian friends.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday in November was designated as the date of celebration. We celebrate with food, like turkey and stuffing, Pumpkin pie, cranberry jelly and mashed potatoes.
Learn More About the Colonists and Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown
A traditional treat, where the Peanuts gang learns the true meaning of Thanksgiving, while sharing food and fun with friends and family!
In your school Thanksgiving program, which did you dress up as?
Dressing For History
Sometimes there is a need for accuracy in costumes. If you're doing more then putting on a pre-school or kindergarten Thanksgiving pageant (where accuracy isn't that important), here's a short history lesson on what Colonial people wore.
First, let's talk underwear. Everyone wore a loose-fitting linen garment under their clothes but there was a difference between the men's version and the women's. Women called it a smock and it came down to their calves, being wider at the bottom so they could walk easily. Men called it a shirt and it was knee-length, so they could tuck it into their breeches.
Babies wore the same things no matter the gender. Boys and girls wore gowns, with long sleeves and skirts. Some wore what was called a "pudding", a type of padded roll to protect the forehead when the child began to learn to walk. They also wore aprons over their gowns to keep them clean.
Around the age of 4, boys would begin to wear doublets (a type of long sleeved, close-fitting jacket) with their gown and petticoats. When children turned 6 or 7, they began to dress as miniature adults, mimicking the fashions of their parents. A boy was "breeched" the first time he was allowed to wear pants.
Girls and women wore what are known as "stays", a type of corset, that was worn over their smocks. These stiff garments supported and shaped the body to the style of clothing popular in the 1600s. Over the stays went a waistcoat, with long sleeves, that was fitted tightly to the body. Then came the petticoats, which kept women and girls warm, depending on how many she wore. Usually these were made of wool, to keep the cold out, and also to protect them from possible sparks from the fireplace during cooking.
Men and boys would wear their doublet over their shirts, which were then attached to the breeches. Some doublets were made of wool, others were made of canvas.
Everybody wore stockings to cover their legs, though only men's legs were exposed. These were kept up by garters, which were strips tied around the knee to keep the stockings in place. As was fashionable at the time, men and women wore ruffled or flat linen cloth collars. Some women and men added lace. Men wore caps or hats fashioned from wool or felt. Women and girls wore wide-brimmed hats or coifs over their hair.
Leather boots or shoes were popular, as well as sturdy. There were cloaks or coats made of wool for cold weather, along with mittens or gloves.
Child-Size Girl's Costume
Adult-size Woman's Costume
Child-Size Boy's Costume
Adult-Size Men's Costume
Adult-size Colonial-Style Hat
How To Make A Colonial Costume!
So are you a Pilgrim or an Indian? Let us know with a comment!