Old Christmas

A friend of mine grew up in the Appalachian mountains, which in those days was pretty isolated from the rest of the country. She told me that they always celebrated what she called

“Old Christmas.”

428px-merryoldsantaThey didn’t decorate the tree until Christmas Day. Unlike the rest of the families I knew, who tore into their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, her family didn’t celebrate the holiday until January 6th. The significance of that day is that it is the Twelfth Day of Christmas–The Epiphany.

In Christian tradition, that is the day that the Magi found the Babe in the manger and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It seems only fitting that this would be the day gifts were exchanged. I marveled at what I considered the beauty of carrying on an old tradition.

My friend assured me, though, that from a practical standpoint exchanging gifts that late was very economical. She didn’t have to shop until after the Christmas holidays, and could take advantage of after Christmas sales. At least, that worked very well until the kiddos got big enough to demand specific gifts from Santa Claus — read that “popular” toys — the ones every other kid on the planet wanted, too. After the holidays, such gifts were difficult to find.

My kids are grown now, and scattered across the continent. I’ve thought I might like celebrating “Old Christmas,” thinking that perhaps it would be less hectic. The holiday calendars get so packed full with parties, and such (for everybody in the family) that even settling a date for the extended family to get together has become a major undertaking. Maybe celebrating would be more relaxed in January?

Ah well. It won’t happen this year, but perhaps that’s what we will try next year. I’m not sure, though. I don’t know if I can stand to look at Christmas decorations from August until mid-January!

What about you? How do you juggle all the calendars and commitments? Do you celebrate on Christmas Day? Christmas Eve? The weekend after? Do you have any special traditions? Maybe you can give me some ideas for “new traditions” for my family.

  4 comments for “Old Christmas

  1. December 14, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    My mother was from the Appalachian Mountains in southeastern Kentucky (near Hazard) and I’ve never heard of “Old Christmas.”

    I don’t have a flurry of parties to go to and what’s left of my family is mainly in Indianapolis where I’m from originally.

    I actually hate the holidays – my ex husband proposed and told me he was leaving me during the holidays. I’m going to Yuma, Arizona and spending it with a singles RV group called the WINS – funky, but it works for me.

    Desert Divas last blog post..Starbucks Computation Skills

    My friend lived deep in the mountains, and they were “dirt poor.” Maybe it’s a “cultural” thing? They were Scots-Irish, too…I dunno. But, I like the idea.

    I can relate to you not liking the holidays. Around here, both November and December are considered “months of loss.” That’s when we have a lot of “death anniversaries.” I have to fight depression…hey, Yuma sounds great! I’d love to escape, too!

  2. December 14, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Hm, I’ve never heard of celebrating Christmas in January. We celebrate give or take around the 25, depending on when the kids can make it. We’re flexible. I do make them put on their jammie pants and pretend they are just waking up for Santa…even if we’re having Santa in the afternoon or at night…

    Kaceys last blog post..Sometimes it’s not Safe

    You made me snort coffee to think of you making your kids put on their pajamas to open presents. You seem to be living in a fantasy world, girl. I can relate 😉

  3. Essessyou
    December 15, 2008 at 7:43 am

    For my own part, I have to apologize for my own unintentional contribution to our hectic holiday schedule. Maybe I could get someone to alter my birth certificate? 😕

  4. December 16, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I think your friend had the right idea. We do all the “usual” stuff, although we have the added bonus of Boxing Day for friends and such, an import from my British husband. This is my favorite time of the year, and I’m always so excited leading up to Christmas. I really don’t mind the hectic parts.

    patoiss last blog post..Haiku: Distractions

    Well, I hope your holidays are wonderful! Boxing Day is not one I’ve ever observed.

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