Watercolor of holly from Christmas card

Christmas Traditions of Yesteryear in the Valley

As elsewhere, Toe River Valley had its Christmas traditions that were continued each year.  Among them were:

Going to the woods to select a Christmas tree that was either a cedar, hemlock, or white pine

Bringing in the tree and decorating it with an angel on top, long chains of colored paper, sycamore balls covered with silver colored paper from chewing gum wrappers, tinsel cut from the same paper, painted pine cones, popcorn roping, cotton for snow, mistletoe, and holly with red berries

Climbing trees to get mistletoe for decoration and to hang over the doorway for girls to pass through and get an unexpected kiss

Working long and hard to get tobacco handed and sold before Christmas to have money for the special season and to pay off charges for the year at the general store

Cracking walnuts to sell in town for buying gifts

Hanging stockings at the fireplace to be filled with candy, and oranges that were only available at Christmastime

Looking forward to the packages that had been ordered for Christmas from the Sears and Roebuck catalog

Baking an apple stack cake, apple pies, egg custard pies, ginger bread, and fresh tenderloin and ham along with homemade grape juice

Making chocolate fudge candy and using the walnuts cracked earlier

Hoping that it would snow so that snow cream could be made with snow, sugar, and vanilla

Exchanging gits on Christmas morning

Shooting firecrackers and guns in celebration

Having a big tree at church with a gift for each child under it

Presenting a play at church

Receiving a treat at school which was given to each student

Reading in the Bible about Jesus being born

Going out in the community to sing carols at night

Telling the story of Old Christmas

Reciting the story of “The Night Before Christmas”

James C. Byrd, Special Collections & Local History Librarian

(submitted  Dec 1, 2020)