Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Calendar: School Celebrations in Rural Mississippi and Germany

I have decided to focus mostly on my dad’s side of the family for these posts since my maternal grandmother is already covering that side of the family.

I really enjoyed listening to my grandma Katie tell me how her town celebrated Christmas at school. It felt particularly significant once I made the connection that her memories speak of a time before integration.

She grew up in a rural area of Mississippi during the thirties and forties. School celebrations turned into town celebrations inviting everyone to participate. Each family would contribute a few items to the after school party to make for a wonderful gathering. My grandmother’s family liked to bring pecan pies and cookies. Her brothers would climb up the pecan trees and shake the branches until pecans rained down upon the girls below. The girls would then pick up all the pecans and carry them home. At night they would stay up and shell the pecans, so their mother could bake with them during the day. My grandmother's mom (aunt) would chop all the nuts and turn them into delicious treats. They even grew their own peanuts, which they would make peanut brittle with and take to the party.

At the party everyone enjoyed the many delicious Christmas delicacies but the real fun was in the socializing. They participated in several different types of competitive games led by the teacher. They played games like potato sack race, family
board games, and this game where they would have to push an egg from one point to another with their noses. Apparently, games like the egg game were mostly for the boys because the girls were decked out in beautiful dresses. These dresses were handmade and consisted of very heavy fabric. In the absence of polyester, they would use a special kind of brocade silk and cotton to make beautiful winter dresses to adorn the girls with for this special occasion.

As for me, my earliest memories of school holiday celebrations are from my time living in Germany. We would celebrate Sankt Nikolaus day in early December. We would listen to the story of Sankt Nikolaus and leave our shoes lined up in the school hallway. Later when we went to get our shoes Sankt Nikolaus would have filled our shoes with candy and trinkets.

As I got older school holidays were getting phased out, so I don’t have too many memories of school holiday celebrations. I do remember that some of the schools I went to had a special store that the kids could go into and buy presents for family members. The gifts weren’t anything extravagant and were actually on the cheap side, but it made us feel happy to pick out gifts all by ourselves.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story, I can just picture the girls in their dresses at this wonderful party. I'm so glad we can start this new tradition of blogging together. Grandma