Outer Banks town of Rodanthe
has long maintained a custom once observed in many parts
of North Carolina: the celebration of "Old Christmas."
After observing modern Christmas on December 25th, people
in Rodanthe and a few other places on the Outer Banks enjoy
another Christmas Day on January the 5th.
Historians agree that Old Christmas arose from
a change in calendars. In 1752 the government of Great Britain
adopted the Gregorian calendar to replace the less accurate
Julian calendar. To make the change, eleven days were dropped
from the month of September 1752 in Britain and all of her
colonies. This made Christmas day fall on December the 25th,
but many North Carolinians continued to celebrate Christmas
on the old date in January.
Ultimately, only on the Outer Banks was the day preserved.
One feature of Old Christmas in Rodanthe is the appearance
of "Old Buck," a four-footed creature looking something
like a bull which is said to roam the forest during the year.
At Christmas he appears to dance and frolic among the celebrating
children and adults. Music, bonfires, and oyster roasts also
mark this unusual North Carolina event.
North Carolina Collection Photographic
Archives, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Kane, Harriet T. The Southern Christmas Book: The Full
Story from Earliest Times to Present: People, Customs, Conviviality,
Carols, Cooking. New York : D. McKay Co., 1958.