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Old Christmas


Old Christmas n  [From its being reckoned by the “old style” or Julian calendar; see quot 1974] chiefly Mid Atl, S Midl Cf Little Christmas, Old Buck  Twelfth Night (January 5) or Twelfth Day (January 6); occas associated with New Year's Eve.1895 DN 1.373 seKY, wNC, eTN, Old Christmas: January 6th. (The day is remembered by those who never heard of Twelfth Night or Epiphany.)  1905 DN 3.89 nwAR, Old Christmas. . . Twelfth night.  1930 Shoemaker 1300 Words 43 cPA Mts (as of c1900), Old Christmas—Celebrated by some mountaineers in January. 1932 Sun (Baltimore MD) 2 Jan 4/2 (Hench Coll.), Twelfth Night . . throughout many sections of the Delmarva Peninsula . . is known as Old Christmas or Little Christmas. 1938 Matschat Suwannee R. 152 neFL, seGA, The sixth day of January. Some fowkses, they say, calls hit Ole Christmas, but most fowkses calls hit Twelfth-night.  1940 (1978) Still River of Earth 223 eKY, The cold spells at Old Christmas and during the week Ruling Day fell were the only times I had need to put on my red woven coat.  c1940 Hall Coll. eTN, [Clipping, nd:] Newport (Tenn.) Plain Citizen: Don't carry ashes out between Christmas and Old Christmas. 1944 PADS 2.20 sAppalachians, Old Christmas. . . January 6. Still observed here and there in spite of the changes which took place with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. On the eve of Old Christmas, at midnight, the elder is said to blossom, cows to kneel in prayer, and the cock to crow all night. . . [PADS Ed: Still observed in some parts of e. N.C.]  1954 Harder Coll. cwTN, Old Christmas. . . The night of December 31st, now called New Year's Eve.  1956 [see Old Buck].  c1960 Wilson Coll. csKY, Old Christmas. . . January 6, still remembered by older people as told to them by their parents. My mother always reminded us of the day and said that her mother always regarded it as the real Christmas. 1966–67 DARE (Qu. FF11, . . The night of December 31st) Infs MO8, NC33, (That's) Old Christmas; TN6, Old Christmas [FW: Inf not sure]. 1968–69 DARE Tape NC58, The people of the little village of Rodanthe do celebrate what they call Old Christmas around January the first. They have quite a festive affair. . . A Christmas program, and gifts of candy and apples or fruit is exchanged . . [followed by] . . a oyster roast or something like that out on the beach; NC76, [FW:] Tell us about Old Christmas as it used to be celebrated. [Inf:] It's celebrated on January the fifth and used to be more or less a get-together of the people of the three villages and usually a few of the other villages on the island and the mainland would join in. There'd be usually a play, a colored master, and they'd have square dances or whatever dance was in style. And usually it would end up in a brawl.  1974 Betts–Walser NC Folkl. 4, In 1752 England officially adopted the Gregorian calendar. Some people continued to celebrate Christmas according to the old Julian calendar, making their Yule holiday January 5. The tradition of Old Christmas came to North Carolina with its English settlers. And although Old Christmas is no longer widely celebrated, the people of Rodanthe on the Outer Banks still have an observance of the original holiday. One feature of their celebration is the appearance of Old Buck, a fierce bull-like creature (really two men in a costume). Every year he cavorts about, trying to frighten the children.  1981 Mebane Mary 49 cnNC, After Christmas we clustered at recess. “What you get?” . . I asked one girl. . . “I didn't get anything,” she said. “I'll get mine ‘Old Christmas'.” . . I asked. “What's ‘Old Christmas'?” “It's after Christmas and I'm going to get something then,” she answered. (Old Christmas, I have since learned, is Epiphany, January 6.)  1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance, 1 inf, seMS, Old Christmas Day—celebration on January 6.
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