‘Old Christmas’ set to start Saturday at Sycamore Shoals

John Thompson • Dec 31, 2013 at 10:30 AM

ELIZABETHTON — It may be New Year’s in the rest of the Tri-Cities, but Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area has always been a refuge for the past. So it’s not surprising that this weekend, the park is celebrating “Old Christmas” at Fort Watauga.

Instead of bright, electric lights and mechanical reindeer, Sycamore Shoals will show how Christmas was celebrated in colonial times. Colonialists brought their traditions with them when they sailed across the ocean and jumbled those traditions together when they settled in the new world.

These included English and Scots-Irish Christmas traditions combined with the German Christmas tree and the Dutch Sinterklaas. While these traditions have become part of the modern Christmas celebration, one tradition that has not survived is the Twelve Days of Christmas, which ran from Christmas Day to Epiphany. Epiphany is the traditional day when the Three Wise Men delivered their gifts to the Christ child, and it became a day of great merriment.

These traditions will be on display Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The fort will be decorated in the traditions that were known to be observed on the colonial frontier. There will be an 18th century “jollification” and each cabin in the fort will be decorated in the style that settlers from each of the main cultures would have displayed during the Christmas season.

It will also be a time for the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia to hold its monthly muster, with 18th century military traditions on display.

For more information on Old Christmas at Fort Watauga, call 543-5805 or go to http://www.sycamoreshoalstn.org.

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