I was a happy woman when I found this title at a used book dealer's booth at the West Virginia Book Festival. I had never heard of Mr. Davis or his book before, and after letting loose of about $40 I was the proud owner of a signed copy.
Hubert Davis based this book on the work of writers during the WPA and his personal and community recollections of Christmas celebrations in the southwestern Virginia mountains. He rounded out the collection of with bits of Christmas history and lore from various places in the world which might be considered the place of origin for many people in the Appalachian region.
The book combines family stories, poems, songs, superstitions, sayings, and some very generalized history into short, readable chapters. There is a section on New Years Day customs and beliefs and a wide-ranging appendix containing seemingly random information about the holidays. Annotations are few, although there is an extensive bibliography.
I am intrigued by superstitions, so the chapter on Christmas superstitions especially interested me. Did you know, for example, that:
- it is bad luck for a cat to meow on Christmas?
- you should never give anyone a coal of fire or even a match on Christmas?
- Ashes from the Christmas fire should not be thrown out that day?
- it is good luck to eat mincemeat pie or stack cake on Christmas day?
- Never let your fire go out on Christmas day, or evil spirits could enter your home (unless, of course, you were protected by your blue bottle bush!)
Now you will have to read this book to find out what else you should and should not do during the holidays. Used copies are available for $9.00 and up from some booksellers on ALibris.
That would be $31 less than I paid for my copy.
Humph. Bah humbug. But I'm still happy to have my copy, even at the price I paid for it. I think it's an unusual find.