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. . .
- Christmas Trees After the Second World War, mountain farmers, looking for crops to revive a declining farm economy, began to market trees from natural stands in nearby towns. Mountain terrain was no […]
- 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 […]
- Dinner on the Ground Dinner on the Ground in the Upland South from Appalachia to the Ozarks, is an outdoor picnic held at Decoration Day events. The term originally referred to eating in a churchyard or […]
- Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church In May 1867, having been led by the spirit of God, newly freed slaves from Charleston joined with their ministers to establish the Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church in East Flat Rock, […]