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"Old Christmas" still be celebrated this weekend at Sycamore Shoals State Park

John Thompson • Dec 31, 2019 at 10:11 PM

ELIZABETHTON — In keeping with its tradition of celebrating events the way they were done in the 18th century, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park will be celebrating Christmas this weekend. 

No, the celebrants are to that far behind time. Yes, they are using the Gregorian calendar. It is just that they are celebrating a holiday called “Old Christmas.”

Park officials explain that In Colonial America, Christmas was celebrated as a 12-day holiday with many traditions and customs. Does The 12 Days of Christmas sound familiar? These 12 days of feasting, and merrymaking ended on January 5, or “Twelfth Night” with a grand celebration.

So, if your Christmas came and went too fast this year, you can have one final Christmas event before putting away all the Christmas decorations. This Saturday, Jan. 4, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 5 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., the Washington County Militia will hold their annual Old Christmas Celebration.

As you walk through the gates of Fort Watauga, you will travel back in time to an 18th century Old Christmas “Jollification.” Each cabin in the fort will be the setting of Christmas, New Year, and 12th Night traditions as celebrated by the settlers of different cultures on the colonial frontier.

Many of our modern Christmas customs are taken from centuries-old practices such as English Christmas guns, the Irish holly wreath, the German tannenbaum, Scottish first footing and the Dutch Sinterklaas. See how our Christmas practices of today are steeped in these old-world traditions.

Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park is located at 1651 W. Elk Ave., Elizabethton. For more information, contact the park at 423-543-5808 or visit www.sycamoreshoalstn.wordpress.com or http://tnstateparks.com/parks/sycamore-shoals.

 

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