Tag Archives: appalachian history

Kentucky’s moonlight schools

Some would consider her the founder of Adult Literacy Education in the United States. Cora Wilson Stewart (1875-1958) was an elementary school teacher and county school superintendent in eastern Kentucky’s Rowan County who, in the fall of 1911, decided to open the classrooms in her district to adult pupils. When the Moonlight Schools opened on […]

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Time for Kris Kringling

For Pennsylvania Dutch children Christmas started yesterday, the beginning of ‘chriskringling’ (or ‘Kris Kringling,’) the two-week period culminating in Christmas. It’s a hybrid of trick or treating, mischief night, and Christmas caroling. Tradition dictates that after dressing in costumes, the children sneak up to a neighbor’s house armed with noise makers of every shape and […]

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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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