Thursday, December 21, 2017

Appalachian Traditions: Christmas Plays & Treat Bags

This post was originally published here at AMR on 12/21/16.

Very few things say "It's Christmas" to me like going to a church Christmas play and getting a treat bag. My church had our play this past Sunday evening and everyone was gifted a treat bag as they left. This has been a part of Christmas my entire life and there are still many churches who practice this tradition throughout Appalachia.

I believe this started as a way to ensure that the children throughout the communities would at least get one treat during the Christmas season. For a lot of children who grew up in the mountains, this may have been the only gift that they could expect. While the bags were initially intended for the children, they are now given to folks of all ages. I'm sure this still stirs up some sweet memories for all generations.

What could you find in a Christmas treat bag? There almost always was an apple, orange, candy cane, a pack of chewing gum, a handful of mixed nuts, and maybe a few chocolates. Some things never change and why would we want them to? 

Do you remember getting Christmas treat bags at church? Do the churches in your area still practice this tradition? What kinds of things did you find in your bags? I would love to hear from you...let me know in the comments!


  1. I used to have to make the bags up for our church before we moved away. People always enjoyed getting them. The cotents were almost identical to what you listed.

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  3. We were in a mill village and almost everyone went to church. It was a special time and we were so grateful. Things have changed from those days.

  4. We lived in a mill village and went to the Baptist church who went all out at Christmas. While I was young and at home I had parts in the Christmas play. After the play, and singing carols, treat bags were given to every one. The contents were just about the same as others have mentioned. The church we attend now does not do this (2000) members. Does anyones church take a part in this time honored memory…?