The Iroquois and the Sugar Maple Festival


And welcome to another Tuesday and the Petticoats and Pistols blog.

February, chocolate and romance —  seem to just go together, don’t they?  And how better to enjoy the sweets than with a give-away of the Tradepaper copy of SENECA SURRENDER.  Just click on the Giveaway Guidelines button on the right here and leave a comment.  That’s all you have to do to be entered into the drawing.

By the way, there is an interview up regarding SENECA SURRENDER at — if you get a chance, go on over and take a peek.

Okay, onward…  I thought for a long time about what I might post this close to Valentine’s Day and decided I might talk about something sugary…something yummy…that’s also directly traceable to the American Indian.  What could be better than to tell you a little about the Iroquois Maple Sugar Festival.  The Iroquois had 8 different festivals throughout the year.  It was in spring, when the nights were cold and the days were warm that the sap from the maple trees began to flow.   This particular celebration was only a one day festival, but it was perhaps one of the sweetest (gee, I wonder why).  Marking this festival there were dances, singing and the making of sweet soups and other sweets as well as a tribute given to the maple tree.

It was much prized by the children…hmmm…  I’m reminded how much my grandchildren love sugary treats (their grandmother, too).

Maple syrup, maple sugar, by the way is a completely American Indian product.  Interestingly, as I have become more and more educated on nutrition, I have learned that maple sugar, although definitely a sugar, reacts differently in the body than regular sugar — or any other kind of sweetener.  It has even been found of late to aid in the recovery of Diabetics (I’m no doctor so please don’t take this as medical advice — I’m just passing along information that I’ve read recently from the farm where I buy my maple sugar, and also this particular YouTube video:

Unlike the Harvest Festival (our Thanksgiving Festival in the Autumn), it’s the Maple Festival  that pays tribute to the maple tree and it’s sap.  But this festival wasn’t given the same sort of publicity like the Harvest Festival, and so it has tended to fade into history, except in the Northeast where the tradition of gathering the sap from the maple trees still exits (thank goodness because I love real maple syrup).

Now here’s a little something that I didn’t know about maple sugar and maple sugaring.

Conditions have to be just right for that maple sap to flow.  Apparently, maple trees or seeds were brought overseas and into the West, hoping to “tap” into this delicious treat.

But it didn’t work.  One feature of maple sugaring is that the nights must be cold and the days warm, otherwise the sap does not run.  It’s only in this part of the world, in the Northeastern region of the Americas that the conditions are exactly right so that one can take advantage of this wonderful gift.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today, and if so, please come on in and leave a comment.  By the way, what are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?  Whatever they are, I hope they will be sweet.


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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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14 thoughts on “The Iroquois and the Sugar Maple Festival”

  1. A sweet treat, indeed! Thank you for sharing this great post and giveaway. As for Valentine’s Day plans, my husband and I will be celebrating 16 years of marriage!

  2. When we lived in upstate NY our neighbor tapped his maple trees and made syrup every year. Could be my imagination, but it seemed so much better than the commercially prepared types! Now that we live in VA, we have lost that connection.

    As for Valentine’s Day, we usually low key it, since our wedding anniversary is the end of January – it was 41 years this year! Hope you have a great V-Day!

    • Hi Karen!

      Having lived for ten years in Vermont, I can understand that connection. When I moved to LA, I, too, lost that connection. But I have it back now that I order my syrup and sugar only from a small farm in Vermont.

      41 years. Wow, that is something to be proud of. Love it!

  3. That is something I never got into eating was syrup. My family thinks I am an odd ball.
    Happy Valentine’s… no plans for me.

  4. Hi Colleen!

    Well, when I was growing up, we had only corn syrup to put on pancakes, and I really didn’t like it — and so shunned pancakes…until I discovered real maple syrup, and then a love affair was born.

    Now I wouldn’t think of making cookies or anything else without it being maple sugar. It is more expensive, I admit. But it’s well worth it in my opinion.

    By the way, my family thought I was an odd one out, too, in that I just didn’t think pancakes were all that good. I’ve changed my mind now. : )

  5. Your posts (and books) always have such interesting facts. I knew some of it but not all. I wonder what sweet soups would be? I do know that what they pass off as maple syrup has little to do with the real stuff!!! Just as I’ve learned that fact about honey. Once upon a time people ate real food 🙂

    • Oh my gosh, a woman of my heart. I so agree with you. I once bought some maple syrup and could actually smell the corn syrup in it… That’s why I buy mine direct from the farmer.

  6. We love it when it is maple syrup time of year! In Michigan here we have quite a few places to watch it being made and see all the trees tapped. As for Valentine’s day we usually don’t do anything. LOL

    • What fun. When I lived in Vermont, it was fun to go and watch them sugaring. What a treat. You know, I tend to do the same as you for Valentine’s day — except, I do make chocolate (from scratch) for my husband. : )…well, and me, too.

  7. I haven’t even thought about Valentine’s Day yet. I am recovering from eye surgery, so not really doing much right now. We will probably have a quiet dinner at home. Don’t like fighting the crowds. Our daughter is coming for a visit the weekend prior, so we may just throw together a family Valentine dinner on Sunday.

    I thought the Northeast was the only place for maple syrup production. We enjoyed going to the sugar bushes to watch it being made and buying some. The pancake breakfasts they had at a couple of them were great fun. The kids loved eating outside sitting at picnic tables or sitting on hay bales. Imagine my surprise after moving to Tennessee to hear they had a sugar bush in the mountains of South West Virginia. They have a maple syrup festival every March. It is a fundraiser for the local fire department. We have never gone, but just might try to this year. There is also a family farm in the North Carolina mountains that produces maple sugar. As warm as this winter has been, I am not sure how well they will do this year. The weather conditions have to be just right to get a good run.

  8. Hi Pat!

    Well, I didn’t know that the sugaring industry could go as far south as Tennessee, but it doesn’t surprise me — in the mountains one would have those cold nights and warm days — so necessary for the sap to run.

    Oh, also, Pat, I’ve sent your books to you. They’re coming media mail and so when you do get them, perhaps you might let me know. : )

  9. Hi Patricia!

    Thank you so much for being there and caring. It’s breath of fresh air in a world that seems more and more to embrace criminal activities as “normal,” which these acts of violence will never be in the eyes of God and/or the eyes of nature.

    You’re making a difference, and my hat is off to you.

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