Monday, December 29, 2008

Breaking Up Christmas

Tipper at Blind Pig and the Acorn reminded me of this old-time tradition in her latest blogpost. People in the some parts of the Appalachian mountains didn't let the holidays go with a whimper--they celebrated them out with dancing and music that lasted for two weeks, a moveable feast that went from house to house in the hills. Now that sounds like a plan to me!

Apparently the tradition was common to the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina; if it ever existed where I lived, it was long gone by the time I to moved to the mountains of West Virginia. According to the Bluegrass Messenger's website, the tradition died out in North Carolina during World War II, but enjoyed a resurgence in the 1970's when attention focused once again on the oldtime traditions.

In a 2001 article for Voice of America, one man explained it this way: "We didn't have electricity," he said. "We didn't have TV. And they'd do all this stuff at Christmas to entertain theirselves, that's the way they had, in place of watching football on TV or a parade in New York they'd all get together and have their own playing around the country."

A banjo tune called "Breakin' up Christmas" tells it this way:

Hooray Jake and Hooray John,
Breakin' up Christmas all night long.
Way back yonder a long time ago
The old folks danced the do-si-do.
Way down yonder alongside the creek
I seen Santy Claus washin' his feet.
Santa Claus come, done and gone,
Breakin' up Christmas right along.

(Lyrics from Songs of the Mountains)

And if you want to hear the tune, where better than YouTube to see old tradition in new technology? This young man can play..and sing!

Thank you, Tipper, for the brain nudge. It was interesting to look a little deeper into the tradition. If you'd like to see photos and learn more about the tradition, be sure to visit Tipper's blog.

Oh, you might learn a different way to celebrate New Year's while you're visiting Tipper!

1 comment:

Juli said...

what a great tradition ! Like celebrating the life rather than mourning the death :)

I hope your new year is as greatly blessed as you make those around you.

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