Christmas in Appalachia was not always celebrated on December 25th. Whether because calendar reform in 1752 had removed 11 days, turning December 25th into January 6th, or because January 6th marked the arrival of the three wise men on the 12th day of Christmas, many Appalachian people celebrated Old Christmas on January 6th. On Old Christmas Eve, they believed that animals could pray. Young people enjoyed raucous activities, setting bonfires and going serenading, which involved shooting guns and firecrackers as well as singing. Old Christmas Day was usually observed quietly, with church going, family meals, community Christmas trees, and stockings containing fruit, nuts, and candy. Old Christmas was a far cry from today’s gift-centered celebration.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- 4th of July Old-time mountain 4th of July celebrations focused on patriotism. In smaller communities, they involve simple patriotic services in churches and a community dinner. . .
- Personal Names People receive their names according to a number of social conventions. Often those conventions reflect regional differences. . .
- Shape Notes
Shape notes were invented in the late 18th century to simplify teaching people to sight-read unaccompanied sacred musical scores. They were called shape notes because, instead of draw...
- Decoration Day Decoration Days are an important part of Appalachian ritual life. Usually held in the summer, these days are set aside by families and church congregations to clean and decorate their cemeteries. ...
- Cornbread Cornbread is a staple in the Appalachian diet. Introduced to the corn plant by Native Americans, European settlers in the New World quickly adopted it for its ease of cultivation, it’s hardiness, a...