Pete Seeger sings in an Appalachian holiday music manner

This holiday season, ring in an Appalachian Christmas.

Christmas is a special time of year no matter where you are, but there seems to be something a little bit different about an Appalachian Christmas. Maybe it’s because many of the old traditions are still alive in these mountains. Perhaps it’s because snow falls infrequently enough in the South that when it does cover the ground on Christmas Eve, it feels especially magical to young and old alike.

A Fairy Tale Setting

Even George Washington loved to contra dance.

There’s an ancient African proverb: “If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.” And the Appalachian settlers took that advice to heart. They danced to celebrate the spring planting and the fall harvest, as well as weddings, births, the midwinter feast… the list goes on. Whenever musicians gathered to play, people danced to the music.

an authentic Appalachian wood cook stove

And how to appreciate modern-day appliances

Ask your Appalachian-born-and-bred grandparents: “Before you had electricity, how did you cook your food?”

Their answer undoubtedly will be “Why, on the cook stove, of course.”

A wood cook stove is a stove built out of iron that could house a fire. This stove had many uses, from heating up a chilly house on an Appalachian Mountain morning to warming up our hands after a day of hunting and playing. But its primary use was cooking.

Downtown Boone with holiday lights

Winter Wonderland of the Appalachians

Once a frontier town, Boone, North Carolina, has become a small-town paradise in the Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina. It has the sights, sounds and culture to delight you, and it exhibits plenty of charm. You can visit Boone any time of year, but come winter, it’s full of holiday spirit and offers plenty of outdoor activities.

Appalachian horse-drawn carriage rides

You can’t get much more romantic, especially around the holidays, than a horse-drawn carriage ride. When the weather’s nice, you can enjoy clip-clopping through your favorite Appalachian historic town. And even if the temperature drops, you can snuggle together under a blanket, sipping hot chocolate, while enjoying the pace of life from another era. After an outdoor wedding ceremony, a carriage ride is perhaps the most romantic outdoor activity.

Appalachian salt bread

Ahhh, bread. It’s the comfort food of the gods, considered the most delightful carbs you can eat. It pairs well with wine or water and even better with butter. Packed with nutrition, it’s been a staple in Appalachian homes since before it was ever sliced for sandwiches. Breaking bread is synonymous with sharing a meal… with family, friends, even strangers.

David West with Trout Cruisers

With more than 4,000 miles of regulated trout waters in Western North Carolina, you can find numerous options for fly-fishing in the area. In the small streams and branches to rivers like the French Broad, David West is an expert in the field.

West is the owner of Trout Cruisers. He customizes rods, ties flies and guides fishing trips in the Appalachians. Trout Cruisers can help you get the most out of your fly-fishing experience. To get you started, Simply Appalachian (SA) spent some time with David, who generously shared some of his experience for our readers:

The city is more than the stage for Clemson Tigers games.

Bordering Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest, Clemson, South Carolina, sits between Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s truly a hub of the Southern Appalachian region. The city’s beauty, history, sports, and friendly character have charmed visitors for over a century. But be warned: some of those visitors never returned home.

Seldom practiced today, it was an annual rite.

Back in the heritage days of yore, when family homesteaders worked the land in small, tight-knit communities, they held community hog-killing days. These Appalachian events were held between Thanksgiving and Christmas when the weather turned cold. Hog killing provided meat for the winter and served to bring the community together once more before snow made travel difficult, even to the next holler.

Simply Appalachian magazine celebrates “all things Appalachian” — which includes places to visit — throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains. Here is another in the series of destinations to see, share, savor, shop and stay.

Luray, Virginia