The Southern Christmas Book

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RobertP

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Written by Harnett Kane in the late 1950’s, Kane was a well-known newspaperman and prolific writer from New Orleans. This book is a collection of short stories about how Southerners throughout the region celebrated Christmas with their own distinctive customs in the early-mid 19th century.

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This was my mother’s copy and we put it out every year. Folks here might be interested in his chapters ‘Confederate Christmas’, ‘Christmas Days, A Woman’s Diary’, and for @Eleanor Rose ‘The Christmas City’ (Winston-Salem), ‘Cotton, Steamboats and Weddings’ (Natchez) and ‘Papa Noel of New Orleans’.

My favorite is ‘Christmas Gift!’, a Christmas morning ritual that always played out in our family, at least as far back as my grandmother’s time as a girl in the 1890’s.

Looks like copies are available and for only a few dollars each.
 
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Eleanor Rose

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I've got to have a copy! Thank you so much for sharing this treasure with us @RobertP ! And @JPK Huson 1863 , thank you for sharing the link to an electronic copy. I've already enjoyed the chapter on the Moravians in Winston-Salem (p. 77).

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This is a pic from Old Salem. Moravian stars are very popular in our area even if you're not Moravian.
 
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lupaglupa

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@RobertP thanks to @JPK Huson 1863 's link I went on and read your favorite story. My Mississippi grandmother always called out "Christmas gift!" first thing in the morning on Christmas Day and I never knew why. My Mother carried that tradition on. They are both gone now and how I will miss hearing that happy greeting. Your post was a good reminder to me to keep that tradition alive next week.
 

RobertP

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@RobertP thanks to @JPK Huson 1863 's link I went on and read your favorite story. My Mississippi grandmother always called out "Christmas gift!" first thing in the morning on Christmas Day and I never knew why. My Mother carried that tradition on. They are both gone now and how I will miss hearing that happy greeting. Your post was a good reminder to me to keep that tradition alive next week.
Good to hear this. My family was from Mississippi too, I grew up in Jackson. Even as an adult I liked to be the first to say ‘Christmas Gift!’ and surprised my mother with it at 87, the last year she was able to celebrate with us. Good memories.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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You got me so intrigued with this book that I went online and found a good used copy and ordered one. I'm sure I will enjoy it very much!
 
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James N.

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Written by Harnett Kane in the late 1950’s, Kane was a well-known newspaperman and prolific writer from New Orleans. This book is a collection of short stories about how Southerners throughout the region celebrated Christmas with their own distinctive customs in the early-mid 19th century.

View attachment 339077
This was my mother’s copy and we put it out every year. Folks here might be interested in his chapters ‘Confederate Christmas’, ‘Christmas Days, A Woman’s Diary’, and for @Eleanor Rose ‘The Christmas City’ (Winston-Salem), ‘Cotton, Steamboats and Weddings’ (Natchez) and ‘Papa Noel of New Orleans’.

My favorite is ‘Christmas Gift!’, a Christmas morning ritual that always played out in our family, at least as far back as my grandmother’s time as a girl in the 1890’s.

Looks like copies are available and for only a few dollars each.
@RobertP thanks to @JPK Huson 1863 's link I went on and read your favorite story. My Mississippi grandmother always called out "Christmas gift!" first thing in the morning on Christmas Day and I never knew why. My Mother carried that tradition on. They are both gone now and how I will miss hearing that happy greeting. Your post was a good reminder to me to keep that tradition alive next week.
This reminds me of a favorite Christmas title, Southern Christmas by Virginia writer and antiques appraiser Emyl Jenkins! I bought my copy in the Macy's where I worked in the 1990's and usually look back at it at least once every Christmas season. In it, she takes a "vacation" with her daughter and two grandchildren through several different Southern cities, towns, and states describing the various customs in each, on the way visiting many beautiful and appropriate locations from Savannah to New Orleans, pictured in full-page color photos. One chapter is even called Civil War Christmases, in which she describes the slaves' holiday, which often included the Christmas Gift game you describe, in which the house servants turned the tables on Massa and Missus. Personally, in my own family, the original members of which had migrated from Louisiana to Texas, it was also a game to see who could "get" Christmas Gift first!
 
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RobertP

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Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
December 1861 letter from L.W. Griffin, of Rutherford County, North Carolina:

“Dear Sisters a few lins to you as brother has Claim A Christmas gifte, Claim one from gorge and from Joseph … you Can tell them to have it for me when I come home If I live.”
I see the same quote in this article on “Christmas Gift!” from Garden and magazine and apparently there are other mentions in soldiers letters.


Wiki traces it back as far as 1844 and having both white and AA roots:

 
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James N.

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I see the same quote in this article on “Christmas Gift!” from Garden and magazine and apparently there are other mentions in soldiers letters.


Wiki traces it back as far as 1844 and having both white and AA roots:

The article was an excellent explanation, and for some reason reminded me that in my family at least, it was actually a variant we used, Christmas Eve Gift.
 
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