Gary Carden to present Old Christmas Traditions program at library

Storyteller and author Gary Carden will present a program titled “Old Christmas Traditions” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4 at the Jackson County Library.

During the program Carden will regale the audience with stories of bygone traditions such as serenading (nothing to do with music); superstitions during the Christmas season; first footers (the first people to set foot in someone’s house on New Year’s Day); dumb suppers (common on Christmas Eve); animals discussing events of the year on Christmas Eve; and the Yule log (back log of the fireplace saved until next year.)

Carden is well known as a storyteller. He has taught the Foxfire Christmas Series for the past 35 years and has emphasized the pagan aspects of Christmas.

Carden, a Jackson County native, was raised by grandparents during the 1940s in the isolated Rhodes Cove community. During his formative years he listened to his great-grandmother tell stories, and, as Carden says, “acquiring the dialect and traditions of a Southern highlander.”

After a few years away Carden came back to his grandparents’ house where he embraced his native culture as a teacher, storyteller, novelist, historian, playwright and screenwriter. The body of work he has produced since then includes the book Mason Jars in the Flood and Other Stories, the Appalachian Writers Association 2001 “Book of the Year”; his storytelling video “Blow the Tannery Whistle,” which has been shown numerous times on public television across North Carolina; and a play, “The Raindrop Waltz,” which has been staged more than 300 times.

Novelist Lee Smith called Carden “a national treasure, an Appalachian Garrison Keillor.”

This Old Christmas Traditions program is free to the public and is part of the library’s Community Outreach Series. Call 828.586.2016 for more information. This program is co-sponsored by the Friends of the Jackson County Main Library.

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