Tag Archives: appalachian history

We didn’t trim a tree at home; we didn’t have any trimming

“I don’t think I was ever any more excited than on that last day at school before Christmas when Miss Dumire asked three of us girls to untrim the tree. She gave each of us a box and said, ‘Try to put the same amount in each box.’ So we were careful, helping each other […]

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There’s more than one definition of fruitcake in Appalachia

Yes, it’s heavy as a brick, and lasts long enough that you can re-gift it year after year without anyone commenting on its shelf life having expired. Blame the Scots. Early versions of the rich style fruitcake, such as what we know today as Scottish Black Bun, date from the Middle Ages, and were luxuries […]

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All I want for Christmas is a whimmy diddle

The whimmy diddle (sometimes called a Hooey Stick or Gee-Haw) is an Appalachian folk toy that has been around for centuries. It’s fashioned from two sticks of laurel or rhododendron into a rubbing stick and a slightly thicker notched stick. The whimmy diddle makes a characteristic sound when the one stick is rubbed back and […]

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I tried to get her to sing all the song

John Jacob Niles composed the Appalachian influenced Christmas carols The Carol of the Birds, The Flower of Jesse, What Songs were Sung, Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head, and Sweet Little Boy Jesus. I Wonder As I Wander, one of his most popular carols, illustrates the working methods of this inveterate collector of homegrown musicality: “I […]

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