Celebrating Christmas on January 7th began as early as 354 AD, some places celebrated on the 5th or 6th of January. When England and Scotland switched over from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, 11 days were dropped to make up for the calendar discrepancy that had accumulated with the use of the Julian calendar.
Some area continued to celebrate Christmas in January and this is called Old Christmas. Old Christmas is celebrated in the mountains of Appalachia, by the Amish and in other areas as well. Orthodox Christians in central and eastern Europe and other parts of the world celebrate Christmas on January 7, where it is called Orthodox Christmas. Orthodox Christmas has its own traditions.
One Appalachian tradition is that animals kneel at midnight to pray and that they are able to speak. To encourage them, give your animals some carrots, apples or an extra bit of hay. I give my dogs a dog biscuit.
Another belief is that Elder bushes will bloom (or sprout from the ground) on Old Christmas Day.
Roy Addison Helton, b. 1886
Roy Addison Helton, b. 1886
you coming from, Lomey Carter,
So airly over the snow?
And what's them pretties you got in your hand,
And where you aiming to go?
"Step in, Honey: Old Christmas morning
I ain't got nothing much;
Maybe a bite of sweetness and corn bread,
A little ham meat and such,
"But come in, Honey! Sally Anne Barton's
Hungering after your face.
Wait till I light my candle up:
Set down! There's your old place.
Now where you been so airly this morning?
"Graveyard, Sally Anne.
Up by the trace in the salt lick meadows
Where Taulbe kilt my man."
Taulbe ain't to home this morning . . .
I can't scratch up a light:
Dampness gets on the heads of the matches;
But I'll blow up the embers bright."
"Needn't trouble. I won't be stopping:
Going a long ways still."
"You didn't see nothing, Lomey Carter,
Up on the graveyard hill?
What should I see there, Sally Anne Barton?
Well, sperits do walk last night."
There were an elder bush a-blooming
While the moon still give some light.'
Yes, elder bushes, they bloom, Old Christmas,
And critters kneel down in their straw.
Anything else up in the graveyard?
One thing more I saw:
I saw my man witb his head all bleeding
Where Taulbe's shot went through."
" What did he say? 'He stooped and kissed me.'
What did he say to you?
"Said, Lord Jesus forguv your Taulbe;
But he told me another word;
He said it soft when he stooped and kissed me.
That were the last I heard."
"Taulbe ain't to home this morning."
"I know that, Sally Anne,
For I kilt him, coming down through the meadow
Where Taulbe kilt my man.
"I met him upon the meadow trace
When the moon were fainting fast,
And I had my dead man's rifle gun
And kilt him as he come past."
But I heard two shots." "'Twas his was second:
He shot me 'fore he died:
You'll find us at daybreak, Sally Anne Barton:
I'm laying there dead at his side."
So, on January 5th, make a cup of hot tea and give your animals a treat. Then give yourself a pat on the back for helping this old traditon survive another century.