Events, Literary, North Carolina History, Southern Folklife Collection

Decoration Day Will Be Topic of Lecture Feb. 4

Decoration Day in the Mountains:
Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians
With Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour
Friday, Feb. 4, 2011
Wilson Special Collections Library, Pleasants Family Assembly Room
5 p.m. Reception | 5:45 p.m. Program
Free and open to the public
Information: Liza TerllFriends of the Library, (919) 962-4207

Folklorist Alan Jabbour and photographer Karen Singer Jabbour will discuss the Southern Appalachian tradition of Decoration Day in a free public program Feb. 4 in the Wilson Special Collections Library.

The Jabbours’ book Decoration Day in the Mountains: Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians was published in 2010 by the University of North Carolina Press.

Decoration Day (often called simply “a decoration”) involves cleaning community cemeteries in late spring or summer, decorating them with flowers, and holding a religious service and “dinner on the ground.” The ritual predates the post-Civil War celebrations of the dead that led to the national Memorial Day holiday. It is still practiced widely throughout the Upland South from North Carolina to the Ozarks.

Alan Jabbour is former director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. He and his wife, Karen Singer Jabbour, have worked together for decades to document grassroots culture in the American South.

Their book draws on extensive field and library research, interviews, and surveys of the cemeteries in which decorations take place. The authors explore the meaning and social significance of these rituals in the region’s rural communities and offer a compelling account of this longstanding Southern cultural practice.

The program with the Jabbours will be sponsored by the Southern Folklife Collection, the Friends of the Library, the Department of American Studies, the Folklore Program, and the Center for the Study of the American South.

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