Sycamore Shoals celebrating old-fashioned Christmas

John Thompson • Dec 26, 2012 at 9:12 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Christmas is not over yet. Once again, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area will be celebrating Christmas the way some of the frontiersmen celebrated it back in the 18th century.

There were far fewer holidays back then, but they made up for it by spreading the Christmas celebration over 12 days, as the old carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” reminds the modern world.

The 18th-century frontiersmen came from many parts of Western Europe, including England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Each group had their own unique styles of celebrating Christmas and those styles often blended together on the frontier.

It is that spirit that Sycamore Shoals hopes to capture Jan. 5 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Jan. 6. from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., when such Old World traditions as the Scotch-Irish lighted windows, the German tannenbaum and the Dutch Sinterklaas come together inside the stockade of Fort Watauga.

The event is sponsored by the re-enactors of the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia. The group will hold their monthly muster and celebrate Old Christmas together, much as the monthly gathering of the militia to drill always encouraged social activities and celebrations on the sparsely populated frontier.

As visitors walk through the gates of Fort Watauga, they will travel back in time to an 18th century Old Christmas “jollification.” Each cabin in the fort will be the setting for Christmas traditions as celebrated by the settlers of different cultures on the colonial frontier. Such customs as English Christmas guns andd Irish holly wreaths will be displayed. This event is not only the last chance to celebrate Christmas for a year, but it also is an educational opportunity to learn more about how modern Christian traditions evolved from these 18th-century Christmas observances.

In addition to the Christmas celebrations, the weekend’s events will include displays of everyday life on the colonial frontier, including open-hearth cooking and flintlock rifle and musket firing.

For more information on the celebration, call the state historic area at 543-5808 or go to www.sycamoreshoalstn.org.

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