The 14th of April is the day to treat yourself to something with pecans in it.
That being said, we’re not at all certain why it’s Pecan Day.
In Raleigh, North Carolina, the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association sponsors a Pecan Day in mid-November. The exact date has varied in the past: Wednesday, 15 November (2000), Friday, 15 November (2002), Saturday, 13 November (2004), Friday, 18 November (2005), Friday, 17 November (2006.)
Some instead plump for Pecan Day being celebrated on 25 March, that being the anniversary when George Washington planted pecan trees at Mount Vernon in 1775, a gift from Thomas Jefferson.
The only sticking point with the Washington date is the planting didn’t happen on this day.
The problem with the Washington date
Washington’s diaries were quite detailed, particularly when it came to his gardens. In his dairies, Washington referred to pecans variously as “Missisippi Nuts”, “Illinois Nuts”, and “Pekans.”
On 11th March, 1775, he did record that he already had “Missisippi Nuts” (aka Pecans):
“March 11th. At the head of the Octagon — left hand side — in the first Row, next the gravel walk 5 Peach Kernals fine sort from Philadelphia. In the next 4 Rows to these 130 Peaches also of a fine kind from Phila. — same as Colo. Fairfax white Peach. Row next these 25 Missisippi Nuts — something like the Pignut — but longer, thiner shelld & fuller of Meat.”
He was not home, however, at all from the 15th to the 30th of the month inclusive (and on the 25th, the day in question, he was in fact staying at the home of Anne Harrison Randolph, part of the same Randloph clan in Virginia as Mary Randolph, author of The Virginia Housewife cookbook (though Mary was only 13 at the time.) Here’s the record:
14. At home all day. Doctr. Craik came in the Afternn. Cleveland still here.
15. Set of for Richmond. Dind in Colchester with Mr. Wagener lodgd at Colo. Blackburns.
16. Went to Dumfries to review the Independant Company there. Dind & lodged with Mr. Leitch. Spent the Evg. at an Entertt. at Grahams.
17. Reachd Fredericksburg first dining at Mr. James Hunters–detaind by Wind.
18. Clear and pleasant–in Fredericksburg all day.
19. Dined at Roys at the Bolling green and lodged at Hanovr. Court House.
20. Reach’d Richmond abt. 11 Oclock. Dind at Mr. Richd. Adam’s. Went to Col. Archy Carys abt. 7 Miles in the Aftern.
21. Dind at Cooleys Tavern in Richmd. & returnd to Colo. Carys.
22. Dined at Galts Tavern & lodgd at a House of his providing.
23. Dined at Mr. Patrick Cootes & lodgd where I had done the Night before.
24. Dined at Gaits & spent the Evening & lodgd at Mr. Saml. Duvals.
25. Returnd to the Convention in Richmond. Dined at Galts & went to Mrs. Randolphs of Wilton.
26. Stay’d at Wilton all day.
27. Returnd to Richmond. Dined at Mr. Richd. Adam’s.
28. Left Richmond. Dined at Hanover C[our]t Ho[use] & Lodged at Roys at the Boiling Green.
29. Got to Fredericksburg abt. 11 Oclock. Dined at Colo. Lewis’s & spent the Evening at Weedons.
30. At Fredericksburg all day. Dined at Colo. Lewis’s.
31. Set of from thence. Dined at Dumfries & reachd home about Sun Set.
On May 2 1786 he planted more pecans (“Illinois nuts” in his diary.)
But nothing on the 25th of March.
|↑1||The exact date has varied in the past: Wednesday, 15 November (2000), Friday, 15 November (2002), Saturday, 13 November (2004), Friday, 18 November (2005), Friday, 17 November (2006.)|