As I started to take a look at what traditions were a part of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains for Christmas I noticed a pattern of changes.
Railroads, coalmines, return of solders from war all effected the way celebrations and traditions were handled here in the mountains. Christmas trees became common and instead of the more prosperous families providing boxes of food for the poor the mining companies began handing them out. Regrettably they usually took the cost of them out of a miners pay.
Even public schools began to change the traditions by standardizing Christmas traditions. This was the end to many individual family traditions..
The 12 days of Christmas, originally started on December 24 and lasted until January 6, was also known as Old Christmas, or the Epiphany. Christmas was celebrated on January 6 until the late 1500’s when the Roman Catholic Church changed the date to December 25. The acknowledgement of Old Christmas was continued in our mountains for years and is still celebrated by some. One legend says Bees hum from dusk until dawn on Old Christmas (January 6). Some say they sing the hundredth Psalm, come out of the hive at midnight, and swarm as they do in summer.
Many legends and traditions however can still be traced back to the mountain roots.
You might think of fruitcake as more of a joke than a real gift or traditions today, but early Appalachian people thought of fruitcake as something entirely different. Scottish settlers also brought fruitcake to the Appalachian region. It is traditionally made of fruits, nuts, and Scottish whiskey. It also referred to Apple Stack cake and eating a slice as you visit a friend’s home during the 12 days of Christmas is good luck for the following year.
In the mountains of Appalachia in the late 1800’s, children began to write letters to Santa and then they would burn the letters in the fireplace so fairies could carry their message up the chimney to Santa Claus.
Any loaves of bread and cakes made on Christmas Day have healing abilities. Many would preserve these baked goods so they could be used to cure illnesses throughout the year.
A cricket on the hearth? Don’t kill it! It’s good luck!
Do animals talk at midnight on Christmas? A lot of people will tell you they do.
A warm Christmas brings a cold Easter, and vice versa. A green Christmas brings a white Easter.
Enjoy your Holidays here in the mountains. As always, thank you for spending some time with us today and
WELCOME TO THE MOUNTAINS