Tag Archives: traditions

Figi’s 2013 Collectible Barn is Here!

Share the Joy of Americana Barns with our Collectible Series

Figi's Star BarnOld barns seem to strike a chord in people, those who live in both the city and the countryside, even those who are not antique lovers enjoy them. Perhaps it’s their picturesque style combined with the symbolism of our shared heritage that makes these barns so universally appealing. Our resident artist is a lover of old barns, and Figi’s Americana Barn Collection is the result of that admiration.

Our collection began in 1992 with a Classic Midwestern Barn and we have added to the collection every year (see our barns). The majority of our collectible barns have been based on a type, like our Round Barn, but last year we asked for suggestions from our customers, and we received many wonderful ideas! (Make your suggestion for next year’s barn) Several people suggested creating a replica of the Star Barn in Pennsylvania, a National Historic Landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This year’s Americana Barn is modeled on that famous barn. Here is its history:

The Star Barn was built in 1872 in the post Civil War era. It was a time when many Americans were living on subsistence farming, but the outlook was very hopeful. Restoration was ongoing, and great strides were made in farming.  The builder, Daniel Reichert, created a barn with an inspiring message built right into the architecture. Designed in the Gothic Revival style with a cupola rising above the gabled roof and tall pointed-arch ventilators, the barn also featured prominent star-shaped ventilators within each gable and cross-gable. The stars symbolize hope and good fortune for the farm and the land.

John Motter, the barn’s original owner, passed away in 1901. The estate stayed within the Motter family until, in 1925, the farm passed into the Nissely family, and was converted to dairy farming. The lower level of the barn was altered to accommodate cattle, a milk house was built nearby, and silos were raised for food storage.

In 1940, the farm passed to Aaron Hoffer, and four generations of the Hoffer family worked the farm. In 1994, the farm was subdivided; the farmhouse and land made up one parcel, and the barn and other outbuildings made up the other.

Recognizing the historical significance of this remarkable barn, the Millport Conservancy and Preservation Pennsylvania joined forces, and on February 29, 2000 they purchased the Star Barn Complex. Their goal was to preserve this endangered symbol of the area’s agricultural heritage. In 2007, the non-profit corporation, Agrarian Country, purchased the complex with plans to use the barn for educational purposes.

Visit the Star Barn website for further information.

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The Festive History of Fruitcake

Select-A-Fruitcake

Tis the season for people to send tasty gifts through the mail to their loved ones, but what should be sent?  Figi’s offers a variety of delicious options, such as meat and cheese packages, cookies, gift baskets, and one of our favorites – fruitcake.  So how and where did fruitcakes first originate?  It is definitely an interesting tale which is fitting for this holiday season.

Egyptians actually created the first version of a fruitcake.  They were placed on tombs of friends and relatives in hopes that their dead acquaintances could survive on the fruitcake on their journey to the afterlife.

In Roman times, fruitcake served as a great way to fuel the Roman army as the ingredients of most of these cakes gave the soldiers a huge energy boost.  With a combination of barley mash, raisins, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds, these fruitcakes were a portable, long-lasting, and relatively light energy source that was extremely efficient for fighting and traveling armies.

In their search for the Holy Grail, even the Crusaders utilized these energizing treats while also incorporating additional ingredients such as fruits, honey, and spices.  For this reason, the fruitcakes became much heavier.

During the 18th century, the fruitcake became increasingly more popular as every year when the nut harvest had finished, a fruitcake was made and saved until the beginning of the next year’s harvest hoping to secure another successful harvest.  Yet, later in the 18th century, fruitcake (also called plum cakes) was outlawed throughout continental Europe because it was considered “sinfully rich”. 

And finally, in more recent times, an interesting custom in England for unmarried wedding guests was to put a slice of fruitcake under their pillow at nights so they would dream of the person they would marry.  Speaking of weddings, fruitcake has even made some royal appearances as it was at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  So don’t forget to dine with royalty this holiday season, and pass on this great, tasty fruitcake tradition to your friends and family!

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