Appalachia Christmas Holidays in Appalachia

Breaking Up Christmas

Christmas Memories

In the early 1900s, folks living in the mountains of North Carolina lengthened the holiday season by celebrating the 2 weeks following Christmas-they called it Breaking Up Christmas.

Residents in the community would host a series of house parties. Each night the party would be held in a different home-the musicians and party goers would follow the party route-merry making until the wee hours of the morning.

Dance - breaking up christmas

Folks hosting the party would clear the rooms of their house to make room for dancing. Sometimes the only space left for the musicians to play-was standing in the door way.

I’ve never been to a Breaking Up Christmas party-but I like the idea of it. The days following Christmas sometimes feel empty-like you’ve built up anticipation for the holiday-and then suddenly it’s over.

If I had a Breaking Up Christmas Party-I’d wish you all could come-but since I don’t and you can’t-I hope you’ll think of this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot as a small taste of what it would be like if I did have Breaking Up Christmas Party-and you came.

This spot features Paul and Guitar Man doing Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. To make it feel like a real Breaking Up Christmas party-you’ll have to dance-but since there is only one of you-I wouldn’t worry about moving all the furniture out.


Hope you enjoyed the little taste of Breaking Up Christmas-now tell the truth did you dance?


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in December 2008.


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  • Reply
    December 31, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Well, I have to say is they sure knew how to celebrate Christmas! What fun!!! You know in Spain, Christmas is celebrated from the 24th until the 6th of January! In all the years living in the States I can’t get used to the one day celebration…

  • Reply
    Laura @ Laura Williams Musings
    December 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve never heard of that. Interesting

  • Reply
    Kent Lockman
    December 27, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Hello Tipper,
    I noticed one gentleman commented about each evening up to January 6th. If you remember I sent you a comment a few posts back about our Old Christmas Gathering up here in IN on or as close to Jan 6th as we can get it. We play music, clog, eat old foods, share memories, serenade with shotguns and firecrackers, play games, and sing shape note music. We haven’t the time to celebrate every night from Dec. 25th until Jan. 6th. Besides it would be very expensive. Hope you and your readers had a great Christmas. Now everyone try celebrating again on January 6th. 🙂 Kent Lockman

  • Reply
    Nantahala Farms & Nursery
    December 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Tipper, I have never heard of this, but it sure sounds like a lot of fun, Maybe Kenneth could host one of these for us next year. LOL

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    December 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Great post, Tipper! Hope that your Christmas was great!

  • Reply
    Phyllis Schmitz
    December 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Gotta move to the music….its
    wonderful. Thanks!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    December 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I have never hear of Breaking up…Just thought the New Years Eve party was the Breaking up of Christmas and getting ready for the hope of the New Year…afterall it is only 7 days following Christmas…LOL
    Sure has been overcast and plum chilly here today…March must be goin’ to be cloudy, chilly with a few flurries….
    Back to Breaking up Christmas….I sang and listened, rolled and “popped a wheelie” in circles while in my rollator!..Does that count as dancin’ to Johnny be Goode?
    Thanks Tipper, I swon’ I love your website…B. Ruth

  • Reply
    Angie Siddall
    December 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Your guitar playing compliments one another very well. Sounds as good as Chuck Berry to my ears. Keep on a picking and grinning folks, I love what I hear.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    I like the idea of Breaking Up Christmas and extending it until January 6. I agree Tipper, we build up and anticipate Christmas and then it just sneaks up on us and can leave some feeling empty. Extending it can keep us happy and joyful. I loved the song by Paul and Guitar Man, and I did dance around the room!

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    December 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    How I wish we still had those parties! I dance all the time. May not be pretty to other folks, but I’m so over that. It is the best exercise there is. Sometimes, I have the music on and have to stop whatever I’m doing so I can get up and dance! 🙂 Happy New Year to you and all your readers.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Those boys sure give their guitars
    a workout on that one. Bet ole Chuck would be proud to see them
    doing it the way he did, except
    he went across the stage on one
    leg. Nice job…Ken

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    December 27, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Breaking up Christmas sounds exhausting! To me, it means putting away the decorations for another year!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 10:07 am

    What a great tradition! It would be nice to celebrate a bit longer after all the work that goes into Christmas preparations.
    You sure do have a lot of musical talent in the Blind Pig Clan,thanks for inviting us to your Breaking Up Christmas party!

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    December 27, 2011 at 10:04 am

    That does sound pretty cool. We usually leave the tree and decorations up until New Years day and then take them down.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    December 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

    No dancin’ on this side of the mountain, but I sure enjoyed that pickin n grinnin…..

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Tipper, this song has put a smile on my face this morning. We have had a very quiet and sad Christmas. My only brother died Friday, December 23rd. This is one of the songs that he liked to play on his guitar. A love of music is one of the things that we shared. I had sent him a link to your site and he told me he really enjoyed the music and posts that he found here. The idea of having parties after Christmas is one that I like too.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    December 27, 2011 at 9:04 am

    It sure looks like fun! Enjoy while you can and share the traditions and fun with the kids. They will keep fond memories!

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    December 27, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I wish we still followed the Breakin’ up Christmas tradition. The time after Christmas does seem like a bit of a let down….and really, no work gets done between Christmas and New Year’s anyway because it is such a short time to be back at work!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 8:33 am

    my feet danced… ha ha it is hard to dance with a laptop in my lap. what a great idea. all new to me. I am taking down my Christmas things this morning.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    December 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I enjoyed the pickin but you gotta be kiddin expecting old folks like me to dance to Johnny B. Goode, the feet are willing but the knees just won’t stand moving that fast fer long. I hope you and your’s all have a Happy New Year.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Have not heard of that tradition. When Christmas was over at our house, it was just over. Sure enjoyed the song. They always do a great job of pickin and singin.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 27, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I’ve never heard of the parties, but I have heard the term “Breaking up Christmas” What a great tradition.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 27, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I didn’t dance, but I dare anyone to sit still while you’re listening to it. I loved it when Michael J Fox sang it in the Back to the Future movie.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Good day, Tipper Hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas— gee “Johnny B Goode” that was one of the first songs my boy did learn to strum and play—it was one of his dad’s favorite songs so he learned to play that to make his dad happy. So thanks for the memory he was 8 when he learned to play that and he is now soon to be 36- I,too like the idea of Breaking up Christmas it really is to bad some of these olde ways have gone by the way side–sad isn’t it?

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 7:40 am

    What, me dance? couldn’t do it even if someone was shooting at my feet but I liked the song and playing by The Guitar Man and Paul.
    My wife’s folks were a musical family and just about every Sunday they would have a singin’. Plenty of piano and guitar playing. Those were the days.

  • Reply
    Tim Mclemore
    December 27, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Good job, enjoyed it . I’m not much of a dancer but it did make me tap my toes.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Sorry, I meant Jan 6, of course!

  • Reply
    December 27, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Sounds like some survival of the twelve days of Christmas. Christmas is still celebrated on Jan 12 in some remote parts of Britain. I used to look after a young man with cerebral palsy who loved the song “Johnny B Goode”. His name was Johnny and he sure would dance!

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