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: