Christmas

Children and their families making grittibanz in Helvetia, W.Va. for the Feast of Saint Nicholas. Dec. 1, 2018.
Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In Helvetia, West Virginia, Christmastime, like all the town’s events, is a community affair. On the Saturday closest to the 5th of December, the town celebrates their unique heritage with tales of Saint Nicholas, sweet treats, square dancing, a potluck dinner, and best of all… Swiss grittibanz, a special kind of holiday bread.

Hear this story on Inside Appalachia.

It’s that time of year again when Trey’s Twitter and Facebook feed flare up with posts about a “War on Christmas.” Every year there’s hubbub over how saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is TOO politically correct, or that a nativity scene doesn't belong on government property. Christmas traditionalists feel there’s an attack on this sacred holiday. While secularists seem bothered that this religious holiday has a privileged place in a country known for its separation of church and state.

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This week's Inside Appalachia is a special holiday edition.  We hear stories of Christmas past, present and hope for the future. We’ll check in with West Virginians still recovering from historic flooding that hit in 2016, find out how to avoid gaining weight, hear a story about a welcomed Star of David on a Christmas tree, and more. 


A few weeks ago, my panoramic sunroof seemingly spontaneously cracked into thousands of pieces while I was driving 70 miles an hour on I-26 W, more than six hours away from home.

 

“I mean it’s still like together,” I told my mom in a voicemail, “but a thousand pieces. I think the only reason it’s still together is because of the tape you and I put up a while ago.”

 

 

Christmas Tree
Aurevilly / Wikimedia Commons

With hundreds of people expected at Tuesday's holiday celebration at the West Virginia Capitol, police plan to detour some traffic starting in the afternoon.

Gov. Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice are hosting the annual gathering.

A Covered Bridge Christmas

Nov 30, 2017
James Owston/ Alderson Broaddus University

Across West Virginia, many towns and cities will host Christmas parades and other holiday festivals in December. But only one town can claim to have a historic covered bridge in the backdrop of their festivities. Philippi is hoping to brand itself as a Christmas destination, with a historic twist. 

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With only two days left until Christmas, how many of you are still out looking for that one final gift? Well, there’s lots of ways to find that last present – big superstores, malls, or online – but what about shopping locally?  The West Virginia Small Business Administration says, small, local businesses employ nearly half of all West Virginia workers.

 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week's Inside Appalachia is a special holiday edition.  We hear stories of Christmas past, present and hope for the future. We’ll check in with West Virginians still recovering from historic flooding that hit about 6 months ago, find out how to avoid gaining weight, hear a story about a welcomed Star of David on a Christmas tree, and more.

Reporting from America’s cultural divide, this is the Us & Them podcast from West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Over the past few years, we’ve noticed that some Americans take offense when people say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” A here’s a clip from an episode we call “War On Christmas… Really?”

From West Virginia Public Broadcasting, this is “Us and Them,” the podcast where we tell stories from America’s cultural divides.

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Gambling has many of the same symptoms as other addictions, including the urge to continue the behavior despite negative consequences, but it’s different in one key way.

 

 

“With problem gambling, sometimes people see the problem as the solution,” said Sheila Moran, director of marketing for the helpline 1-800-Gambler.

 

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As a Facebook friend of mine recently put it “I doubt it is too far off to believe that in the last few weeks I have consumed the same amount of sugar (if not more) that people a few centuries ago would get in their entire lifetime.”

 

But seriously. Holidays these days often equals eating lots of sugary treats. And eating lots of sugary treats sometimes spells weight gain for holiday revelers.   

This Christmas Eve people all over the world will log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. military radar. This all started in 1955, with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Col. Harry Shoup's secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Shoup's children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Every year, dozens of people in Harpers Ferry go back in time. In the shops and at the national park, it's 1864 all over again. It's fun for locals and visitors to see how people in Victorian-era West Virginia celebrated Christmas. But it's also a reminder of how bittersweet it can be for people to try to find a bit of good cheer in the midst of a long and terrible war.

 

For this episode, I reached out to my Facebook friends to hear their thoughts on the alleged “War on Christmas.” Is this a real thing? 

WVPB's unofficial mascot, Uri the sheepdog, loves mugging for the camera.
Joni Deutsch

T'is the season for great friends, sugary treats and indie-tastic holiday music from "A Change of Tune."

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll hear stories of Christmas past, Christmas present and even hope for Christmases in the future.

Joni Deutsch

December's finally here, a season full of yule log background savers and ugly-yet-still-popular-at-Urban Outfitters holiday sweaters. To me, the best part of the holiday season comes from rock'n around the Christmas tree/menorah and giving special gifts to my family and friends. And yes, dear reader, A Change of Tune, West Virginia Public Radio's brand new indie/alternative music program, is sending some holiday musical cheer your way.

We’ll hear some of the Christmas messages that were broadcasted into high security prisons this week on the Calls from Home radio program. The holidays often bring back memories of years past, and this is especially hard for those with a family member or loved one who’s passed away. And we’ll hear about a former marine in West Virginia who’s now helping people pull themselves out of poverty. You’ll find these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

It Just Needed A Little Love: An Ugly Spruce Ties A Town Together

A West Virginia Christmas Morning

Dec 24, 2014
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the song “Frosty the Snowman” has a West Virginia connection.  The man who wrote it lived in Mineral County.  And reporter Roxy Todd takes us for a ride on the Polar Express in Randolph County.

Over the last six weeks, 15,000 people rode the Polar Express train in Randolph County. 35 other Polar Express trains exist across the country. But the one in Elkins is the only Polar Express in the Mid-Atlantic region- so it's extremely popular. This themed train also supports dozens of local jobs- at least seasonally.

WV State Troopers, WV State Police
Suzanne Higgins / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Several motorists in the Princeton area got a surprise when they were pulled over by West Virginia State Police troopers.

Last week, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife found a 125-pound young and healthy mountain lion in Bourbon County. Officials are still trying to determine if the large cat was someone’s pet or wild. If it’s a wild animal, it will be the first one confirmed in Kentucky since the Civil War. 

Welcome to a special holiday episode of Inside Appalachia, featuring music by The Sweetback Sisters, with their album Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular, 2012, and Bob Thompson's More Joy to the World, 2007.

Hip Hop from the Hill Top / Calls from Home

Rob Campesinos / Los Campesinos

Indie/alternative sleigh bells ring; are you listening? To celebrate this winter wonderland of a season, "A Change of Tune" host Joni Deutsch chatted with holiday music hitmakers. First up: Gareth David, otherwise known as the frontman and glockenspiel player for seminal British indie rock band Los Campesinos! The band just released A Los Campesinos!

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The annual “Christmas in Shepherdstown” festival continues tomorrow evening. A Civil War Christmas comes to Shepherdstown this weekend, with music, dance, carriage rides, and lectures all about the town at Christmastime during the Civil War.

In this Holiday episode of Inside Appalachia West Virginia storyteller Karen Vuranch weaves some folk tales, The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier discusses his children's penchant for eating snow and Roxy Todd of Traveling 219 shares the story of the Christmas Eve 1955 sighting of a mountain lion in Pocahontas County, W.Va.

swans
wikimedia commons

The 12 Days of Christmas is a popular holiday song. But have you ever really thought about the gifts that person gave? What does one do with 7 swans a-swimming?

Actress and storyteller Karen Vuranch of Fayetteville believes she knows what a smart, resilient Appalachian woman would do with such gifts!

Lasse Berre

Watch Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir on Monday, Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. on WV PBS

Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, is the magnificent setting for an all-new Christmas special with the renowned St. Olaf Choir.

Joy to the World 2004 with Bob Thompson
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

  Enjoy this version of Angels We Have Heard On High, performed by Bob Thompson and the Bob Thompson Unit. It was recorded live during our annual Joy to the World holiday concert.

Mike Powell / The Nature Conservancy

One of the most enduring traditions for many families at Christmas is decorating a live tree but one variety of fir found in West Virginia that is a popular Christmas tree is struggling in the wild.

The Canaan fir is a type of Balsam found only in the highlands of West Virginia and Virginia. But many Christmas tree farms in the region also grow Canaan firs.

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