DECORATION DAY IN THE MOUNTAINS:
Traditions of Cemetery Decoration in the Southern Appalachians    
by Alan Jabbour and Karen Singer Jabbour
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010
(250 pp., 8.75" x 11.25", 33 color photographs and 86 black-and-white photographs, map, appendices, endnotes, bibliography, index)
community cemeteries, decorating them with flowers, holding a religious
service in the cemetery, and having dinner on the ground. These
commemorations seem to predate the post-Civil War celebrations that
ultimately gave us our national Memorial Day. Little has been written about
this tradition, but it is still practiced widely throughout the Upland South,
from North Carolina to the Ozarks and beyond.

Written by folklorist Alan Jabbour and illustrated with more than a hundred
photographs taken by his wife, Karen Singer Jabbour, Decoration Day in
the Mountains is an in-depth exploration of this little-known cultural
tradition. Through interviews, first-hand narrative, photographs, and
extensive field and library research, the authors illuminate the meanings
behind the rituals. The book describes typical decoration events, surveys
the folk cemeteries in which Decoration Day takes place, and explores the
symbolic meaning and social significance of the custom in the region’s
rural communities.

Decoration Day in the Mountains also shows how the tradition led to a
grassroots movement to hold the federal government to its promises about
cemeteries left behind when families were removed to make way for
Fontana Dam and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Jabbours
document this movement, which has had a significant impact on the
political and cultural life of western North Carolina.

Abundantly illustrated and vividly written, Decoration Day in the Mountains
presents a compelling account of a widespread and longstanding
Southern cultural practice.

Click here for sample color photographs of Decoration Day.
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