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Fashion

The "Cavalier" style of dress became popular during the early part of the Baroque period. This style marked a distinct change from the fashions of the prior age. Starched, stiff fabrics were replaced with natural atins and silks. Trimmings were simple and confined to buttons, buttonholes, and lace. Women's bodice necklines were cut wide and square, and waistlines heightened. By 1630, sleeves became full and draped softly below the elbow, revealing the wearer's lower arm for the first time in centuries.

Cavalier fashion for men paralleled the trends in women's clothing. Men wore "doublets" (short Bolero-style jackets) made of stiff fabric or pointed in front, and "jerkins" (utility jackets made of leather). Waistlines were often adorned with ribbon bows which held the doublet and breeches together. Sleeves were trimmed with horizontal rows of braid or vertically slashed and finished with buttons. The stiff hose of the past was replaced with full, long breeches trimmed with braid and slashed on the side, as well as softer, wrinkled hose below. Later in the period, men wore baggy breeches known as "Rhinegraves," which were gathered below the knees with lace frills. This trend in breeches led to the popularity of "Petticoat breeches," which were full skirts worn low on the hips.


Food and Cooking

During the Baroque era, English cuisine consisted of various breads, meat pies, fresh fruit, sweets and desserts. Many residents of London ate four square meals a day. Forks were introduced from Italy as utensils for eating meat. (Before this time, the English used spoons, carving knives and bare fingers.)

In Europe, the pleasures of a formal dinner reached new gastronomic heights with the discovery of different and exotic foods and spices, and the creation of new recipes. Visually the table became more exciting and elaborate with new serving dishes such as tureens, sauceboats, and centerpieces to present the new recipes. New porcelain factories competed with silver and goldsmiths to supply large and elaborate dinner and dessert services to the courts of Europe, and a growing number of glass factories florished as wine glasses found their way onto the table. In this century, for the first time the dining room became a clearly defined space within a house dedicated to one particular purpose-the service and enjoyment of food and all the pomp and circumstance that can surround it.

Dining in 17th century Europe was hierarchical and stratified by economic background and the type of occasion. For example, at the Court of Versailles, Louis XIV's dining possibilities ranged from the heights of "the Royal Feast" through five variations of "le grand couvert" ("the large placesetting") and two of "le petit couvert," each with added nuances of informality. Louis XIV's Court at Versailles established the formal customs of dining throughout 18th century Europe via le service à la française (the French method of serving), which became universally accepted as the only civilized fashion of dining. In the French manner, at each course all the different dishes were placed on the table at the same time and in exactly prescribed locations. The diners would help themselves to whatever was near at hand without moving the dishes, and if necessary pass their plates to their neighbors to get food that was out of their reach. At large dinners this meant that it was impractical for guests to sample all the dishes, so it was important to have an interesting selection of foods near each guest.

Perhaps the most famous meal in American history occurred during the seventeenth century. The first Thanksgiving dinner was celebrated by the Pilgrims of Plymouth colony in 1621. After a devastating winter in 1620, they celebrated a successful harvest in 1621. The Pilgrims had 20 acres of corn, grown from seeds furnished by Indians. They feasted for three days on waterfowl, wild turkeys, fish and deer. The deer were contributed by Indian hunters. About 90 Indians of the Massachusetts Bay Wampanoag tribe, including chief Massasoit, feasted with the colonists.


Sports, Games and Leisure

During the Baroque era in England, the sport of croquet became popular. The sport actually can be traced at least to the 14th century, and there are several versions of how it originated. One is that lawn bowlers developed an indoor form of their sport to be played during the winter, adding hoops and mallets to make the game more challenging on the much smaller playing area. This indoor version of lawn bowling then moved back outdoors and become known in France as paille-maille ("ball-mallet"). The other is that paille-maille was originally a form of outdoor billiards. However, judging by what scanty documentation there is, billiards seems to have come along about a century later. In any event, the sport existed for several centuries without becoming particularly popular. Scottish golfers seem to have taken it up, possibly as a kind of practice, during the 16th century and, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1604, he brought paille-maille equipment as well as golf clubs to his new court. Played during the 17th century by Charles II and his courtiers at St. James's Park in London, the name of the game was anglicized to Pall Mall, which also became the name of a nearby street. "Mall" then turned into a generic word for any street used for public strolls.

In America, the early settlers had little time for games or amusements. Additionally, there were few items of luxury so the activities were simple with little or no equipment. Children in Plymouth Colony spent much of their day working, and they began at an early age to do important work for the family such as working in the corn fields, cooking, fetching water, taking care of the animals, and watching younger children. Nevertheless, children were allowed to play a little every day. Many Pilgrim parents thought that it was acceptable for children to play games as a way of resting from work, and that the best kind of games and sports for children were those that exercised their bodies (like running races) or their mind (like draughts). They also liked children to play games in which they practiced skills that they would need later in life (like playing house or playing with dolls). But they did not want their children to play games that involved luck because that was too much like gambling. Pilgrim children played word games, like gliffes. Gliffes are tongue twisters. For example, the following is a gliffe from the 17th century: "Dick drunk drink in a dish; where's the dish Dick drunk drink in?" Telling riddles, blowing bubbles, and playing with toys such as stilts, pinwheels, tops, hoops and marbles, were also popular pasttimes.

In the early settlements, children were not the only ones having fun. Adults sometimes played games, sports or danced as part of celebrations, like weddings and harvest celebrations. Additionally, the settlers learned competitive games such as lacrosse from the Native Americans. In 1621, some of the settlers in Plymouth Colony were discovered playing stool ball (a game somewhat like volleyball) and pitching the bar (a contest of strength) in the street rather than praying on Christmas Day. The Governor, William Bradford, took away their games and told them it “was against his conscience that they should play and others work.” Bradford wrote about the incident in his journal, which was published many years later.