Christmas Heritage Holidays in Appalachia Music

Johnny B Goode & 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.

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 and you came.

This spot features Paul and Guitar Man doing Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Good. 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?

Tipper

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    brit
    January 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

    with all the snow we’ve been having it’s sorta felt like a breaking up christmas party, traveling to the neighbors (by foot) baking and so forth.
    As usual loving your bloghistory!
    brit

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 31, 2008 at 11:58 am

    The idea of breaking up Christmas 9s really interesting. The act of breaking it up actually made it last longer.
    It seems that we humans do everything backwards.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    December 29, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve heard of this, Tipper, although I think it must have died out in my area in the 50’s when the aluminum plant opened and fewer people worked the land. I think it’s a great idea. Our New Year’s bonfire does it for us.
    Thank you for reminding me of this old tradition, and the best of the coming year to you, Pap, Chitter, Chatter, the Deerhunter and all your other dear ones!

  • Reply
    kristi
    December 29, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    That sounds like fun. It always does seem like such a let down after Christmas. I still look forward to the New Years party our church has every year. We all ring in the new year at the church together after a service then we munch out on all the good food everyone brings.

  • Reply
    Dejoni
    December 29, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve never heard of this! What a great idea!

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    December 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas, Tipper! Wholeheartedly agree about the anti-climactic feel after Christmas although we celebrate well into the New Year. However, the idea of “Breaking Up
    Parties” with dancing sounds exhilerating! I do dance! Just a bit difficult to dance at the keyboard. I’ll let my fingers do the dancing! :)) But what a wonderful idea! Love it!

  • Reply
    Trainwreck
    December 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Oh I am so glad that wasn’t what I thought!Whew, Yes I wouldn’t mind going to that kind of Break up Christmas!Thank you our Christmas was nice. I hope you had a great Christmas as well. Have a safe and Happy New year!

  • Reply
    Egghead
    December 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I love this old tradition. Dance? Me? Why I dance almost every day. Just can’t help it. I love music and tom foolery.

  • Reply
    Mary
    December 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Tipper,
    I learn so much about your culture each time I visit you. I had never heard of Breaking Up Christmas, but it sounds like fun and I loved your vintage photos. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, my friend. I wish you abundant blessings, love, laughter, good health and prosperity in 2009.
    Blessings,
    Mary

  • Reply
    Farmchick
    December 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I haven’t heard of this tradition, but I would welcome it. We are already on that “letdown” period around here!

  • Reply
    Becky
    December 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Well, not I wasn’t dancing, but my toe was tapping along with the beat. That’s one of my favorite songs.
    I’ve never heard of breaking up Christmas. But it sounds like a lot of fun!!

  • Reply
    Marlene
    December 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Well I didn’t dance but I can tell you that this is one of my husband’s favorite songs! blessings, marlene

  • Reply
    Lisa Otis
    December 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I would love the Breaking up Christmas tradition.. I have Christmas “let-down” every year… sometimes I wish it would never come, just stay the week before Christmas forever! I want to keep up the tree and lights, and keep baking Christmas cookies with the kids, and keep enjoying the looks of anticipation on my children’s faces.
    I guess it wouldn’t be as special if it happened every day.

  • Reply
    cathy
    December 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Hope you enjoyed a lovely Christmas!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    December 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Tipper: What a neat tradition. I’m a slow dancer at best. I met my wife at a record hop in the 50’s. she danced into my heart and we have been together through the years since then.
    The boys sounded good on a classic that played back then.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    December 28, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    I think that breaking up Christmas is a great idea. I’ve never heard of it, but it sounds so wonderful. You get so wound up trying to get everything ready for Christmas and then, suddenly, it is all over. Breaking up Christmas sounds like just the thing to wind down without the sudden stop.
    The music, wonderful.
    Thank you.

  • Reply
    SandyCarlson
    December 28, 2008 at 8:22 am

    This sounds like a lovely custom. Makes me think of Boxing Day in Ireland–St. Stephen’s Day is about as big as Christmas and extends the celebration a bit. Sometimes I think we blog things a little too fast in the US.

  • Reply
    Linda
    December 28, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Oh that was some good pickin and singin! When our kids were little, they and their daddy begged me not to take down the tree. Sometimes you could just blow on it and needles would fall. Yuck! Mid-January and later! They loved Christmas. Well, I do too, but all good things must come to an end and be packed up til next year! 🙂 Now that we are old and far away from our grandchildren…it’s not quite as much fun. Thank you for sharing your family and traditions with us. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    December 28, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I’d love to come to your Breaking Up Christmas party. Sounds like a great time! Loved the song and yes, there was a little chair dancing going on here.

  • Reply
    Osagebluffquilter
    December 28, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Did I dance? Heck no, I don’t want to shed those extra calories I consumed during the holidays before I can make a New Years Resolution with them! Ha Ha Ha
    Patti

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    December 28, 2008 at 8:21 am

    I did not dance…..too many people in the same room to make fun of me… but I sure tapped my toes! Just love the pictures and the history on this. Blessings, Kathleen

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    December 28, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Breakin’ up Christmas sounds like a great idea! I’ve been enjoying the down time to spend more time with the family 🙂 Great song!

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