By Max Hrenda
‘For most of us, the holiday season has already come and gone.
Many folks have already started pulling down Christmas lights. Others have put away their decorations and hauled the Christmas tree to a dropoff point.
Even though the holidays are winding down, there are a few who are still keeping the holiday spirit going, even if that spirit is a few hundred years old.
“We have our Old Christmas celebration going at Fort Watauga,” said Chad Bogart, historical interpreter for Sycamore Shoals State Park. “Folks can come down and get an idea of what Christmas was like in colonial America.”
The festival celebrates the 12 days of Christmas, which most people know from the song of the same name. Bogart explained that the 12 days are actually in reference to the 12 days that were omitted when, in 1752, British Parliament changed the calendar year to the year we use today.
“Folks who did not want that to happen rioted in the streets,” Bogart said. “They started celebrating the same holiday (Christmas), but 12 days after the fact.”
Coincidentally, the 12 days of Christmas celebration ends on a significant date in Christianity, again wrought by the calendar change.
“Old Christmas would fall on Jan. 6, which just so happened to be Epiphany, the day the three wise men brought gifts to the Christ-child,” Bogart said. “It made for a good, 12-day long celebration.”