Folklorist Alan Jabbour and his wife, photographer Karen Singer Jabbour, will visit Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center on Friday, April 12, to present a program focusing on the tradition of cemetery decoration in the mountains of North Carolina.
Co-sponsored by the Jackson County Genealogical Society, the presentation will begin at 4 p.m. in the museum auditorium and will focus specifically on cemetery decoration in Jackson and Transylvania counties.
“Decoration Day” is a little-known cultural tradition that involves mountain residents across the South gathering on a day in late spring or summer to clean a community cemetery, decorate the graves with flowers, take part in a religious service and have dinner on the grounds. The tradition is still widely practiced throughout the Southern highlands from North Carolina to the Ozarks.
The Jabbours research into cemetery decoration has been ongoing since 2004, and the following year the couple collaborated with archaeologist Paul Webb and WCU anthropologist Philip E. Coyle in compiling the “North Shore Cemetery Decoration Project Report” for the National Park Service. The Jabbours, residents of Washington, D.C., also produced a book in 2010, “Decoration Day in the Mountains,” and worked with the Mountain Heritage Center staff in creating an exhibit by the same name.
The Mountain Heritage Center is located on the ground floor of WCU’s H.F. Robinson Administration Building. For more information about the April 12 presentation and the museum’s other programs and special events, call 828-227-7129 or visit http://www.wcu.edu/mhc.