Dixie Darr

My Literary Advent Calendar, Day Fifteen

In Uncategorized on December 11, 2016 at 7:44 pm


Sunday, December 11, 2016

During the first half of the 19th century, a booming market for fashionable furs in the East and in Europe drew hundreds of trappers to the Rocky Mountain West. Working and living closely with American Indians, “they developed a most colorful society,” according to a story by historian John Monnett, The Mountain Men Celebrate Christmas 1813-1855. Private forts built by the great fur companies served as winter quarters and “became the scenes of boisterous Christmas celebrations.”

Religious services were rarely held” as “most of the old mountain men’s religious beliefs became more compatible with the Indian concept of harmony with nature rather than a fundamentalist form of Christianity.”

Drinking, feasting, and sporting contests comprised most of the activities” and included numbers of Native American participants. The huge feasts featured wild game, rum and whiskey from stores of liquor held in reserve by fur company managers.

Many, maybe most, cultures celebrate midwinter holidays, and we continually adopt traditions from one another. Our Christmas tree harkens back to pagan festivals and the Roman customs for Saturnalia. Santa Claus came from a Greek bishop, Saint Nicholas.

In my family, we always ate oyster stew on Christmas Eve, but since I refused to eat oysters (still do) we also had chili. Christmas morning, my brother and I always found an orange in our stockings. My current favorite tradition is my church’s candlelight service on Christmas Eve. Please share some of your family’s traditions.


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