OLD CHRISTMAS

 
by Eric Hause


Rodanthe, NC




Every January, about a week after most families have taken down their Christmas decorations, the residents of Rodanthe gather for a traditional celebration known as Old Christmas. Held on the Saturday closest to Epiphany, Old Christmas has been observed for over 100 years in this tiny Hatteras community.

It is thought to be a holdover from colonial days when, in 1752, the English Crown adopted the Gregorian calendar, shortening the year by eleven days. According to local lore, the isolated Hatteras towns were not informed of the change until years afterwards, and in true Outer Banks spirit, refused to adopt the change.

While the residents certainly welcome visitors, this is a locals' celebration held at the Rodanthe Town Center. Festivities usually begin with an oyster roast in the afternoon, followed later in the evening by the appearance of Old Buck, a mythical wild bull. Legend has it that Old Buck once terrorized the townspeople until a hunter finally felled him. Today, the residents who dress in bull's costume and parade through the celebration bring Old Buck back to life.





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