Rodanthe Old Christmas – 250 Years of Tradition Keeps Customs Alive

Riding old Buck in the 1950s at a Rodanthe Old Christmas.
Riding old Buck in the 1950s at a Rodanthe Old Christmas.

They’re celebrating Old Christmas at the Village of Rodanthe today. It’s a tradition that goes back at least 250 years. Maybe even a bit longer, it’s hard to say.

It all depends on when a group of isolated villagers in Colonial times along the Outer Banks were told that England had adopted the Gregorian Calendar—the calendar we use today. Great Britain switched over from the Julian Calendar in 1752. 

That calendar had been steadily losing time and becoming less accurate because it didn’t account for leap years accurately.

When England switched, the only way that Parliament could see to do that was to simply delete 11 days from the year—that’s how inaccurate the Julian Calendar had become.

When the good folks of Rodanthe heard about the new date for Christmas—well they chose to ignore it and a wonderful tradition was born.

We’re not sure how the villagers celebrated Christmas back in 1752, bu nay the early 19th century tradition was taking hold, a tradition that included a lot of food and games music and the appearance of the mythical Old Buck. early

Old Buck it seems, was a bull who escaped from a shipwreck and came ashore somewhere on Hatteras Island. According to legend the local cows took a real liking to him. At some point in time, it’s unclear exactly when, he disappears from everyday life, making his appearance only at the Old Christmas celebration. 

The Rodanthe Old Christmas is held every year at the Rodanthe Community Center on the first Saturday before the Epiphany.

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