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.

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.

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.

The Appalachian region has a rich and varied past, starting in the early settler days. The Appalachian Mountains got in the way of the pioneers of the area; the hilly terrain presented a tough barrier to those wanting to head west. It wasn’t until Daniel Boone was commissioned to build what we now call the “Wilderness Road” in 1779 through Cumberland Gap that people begin to move westward and settle in the mountains.
Everyone knows that that Independence Day (aka the Fourth of July) celebrates the date in 1776 on which the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. You probably didn’t know, however, that Independence Day has only been an official nationwide holiday since 1941. Massachusetts was the first state to make it an official holiday within its borders in 1781. Nevertheless, Americans have been celebrating their declared independence from the British monarchy unofficially since 1777. Parades, concerts, bonfires, picnics, even ceremonial funerals for King George III have evoked cheers and patriotic feelings. But until 1941, these festivities were primarily regional or local affairs, and celebrations varied from state to state.
Of all the unusual crafts, foods and practices that have become a part of the Appalachian way of life, none is truer to the heritage of these mountains than clogging. And because of its unique origins and uplifting artistic ambiance, clogging has drawn thousands around the country to its toe-tapping ways. A form of folk dance practiced by men, women, boys and girls from five to 85, clogging is to tap dance what watercolor is to oil painting.

The history of baseball is the history of America.

A brief history of Gospel singing in Tennessee Southern Gospel music typically refers to the tunes that white Christians developed around the turn of the century. Growing in popularity beside the black Gospel music that urban dwellers created, Southern Gospel came into its own thanks to a pioneer in the genre, Tennessee-born James D. Vaughan.
No matter how easy it may have become, its origins grew out of concern for the family’s health and well-being. Back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Appalachian families kept their log cabins and brick abodes locked up tight during the winter to keep out the elements. Homes were heated primarily with wood stoves, fireplaces and potbelly ovens. Oil lamps and candles chased shadows from the corners of every room, providing light for the long nights of winter.