Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar - Day 11 - Other Traditions

Uncle Scott's Christmas tradition was unusual because he was and is the only person I knew who did this during the holiday season. When he came to visit, before he knocked on the door he would call out Christmas gift in a loud voice. I don't remember him or anyone explaining the why he did this. A light bulb moment occurred while reading slave narratives. This tradition may have originated during slavery.

"At Christmas time the slave children all trouped to "de big house" and stood outside crying "Christmas gift" to their master and mistress." Amanda McCray of Florida

"If we could manage to say "Christmas gift" to any of the Master's family on Christmas morning before they spoke to us, they would have to give us a gift of some kind." Malinda Discus of Missouri

"De fust one what said Christmas gift ter anybody else got a gif', so of cou'se we all try ter ketch de marster." Charlie Barbour of North Carolina
Ernest Scott was born in 1897. He married my Dad's sister Rosie Lee Durr.
The photograph, taken in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, is from the personal collection of Georgia Wise. The lady in the photograph is unknown.

4 comments:

  1. I read that too. Maybe we could reinstate it without the master/missy part. when my grandkids come to the door if i can say "Merry Christmas!" to them before they hollar out "Christmas Gift!" I get to keep their gift. I don't think they will go for it.

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  2. No, I don't think your grands would go for not getting their gifts.

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  3. Amazing story. Thanks for sharing the historical references. Amazing how traditions/habits/cultural "norms" pass from generation to generation, sometimes without us understanding why.

    Great picture. Love the woman in the hat looking out the window. And the expression on the face of the woman on the steps is lovely.

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  4. Alice, The woman on the steps does have a lovely expression, perfect for the world wide web.

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