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Getting ready for Christmas

Old Christmas might not be a day of great significance for many people in today’s world but around Pike County, it’s a Christmas tradition that brings the Christmas season to a quiet, peaceful and meaningful close.

Old Christmas at Clay Hill is celebrated annually on January 6 at historic Clay Hill Church in rural Pike County.

The service celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men who followed the star to worship the Christ Child.

“Old Christmas is a tradition that isn’t often celebrated as such,” said Dot Laney, a member of Brundidge United Methodist Church, which hosts the special service.

“As Christians, we celebrate January 6 as Epiphany, which commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the person of the Magi. But long ago, January 6 was celebrated by many of our ancestors as Old Christmas and that’s the way we celebrate it at Clay Hill Church every year.”

Old Christmas at Clay Hill is a non-denominational service and everyone is invited.

Laney said the beauty of the service is in its simplicity. It is a service of scriptures and songs.

“Old Christmas at Clay Hill is a lantern light service,” Laney said.

“The church is decorated with evergreens and berries. There is no heat and the benches are wooden and the floors are bare. The music is played on traditional instruments and the congregation is invited to sing along on the old carols of Christmas. It’s a service much like a Christmas service would have been 75 years ago in an old country church.”

The service closes with the lighting of candles that symbolizes the Light of Jesus Christ in the world.

“Old Christmas is such a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas,” Laney said.

“It’s such a spiritual service and one that stays with you throughout the year.”

Jane Senn has not missed an Old Christmas service in all the years it has been a part of Christmas in Pike County.

“Old Christmas is very special to me,” she said. “The church is special to all of those who have a family history in the church and it’s also special to those who celebrate Old Christmas there in the old fashioned way each year.”

Laney and Senn are among those who decorate the church each year.

Decking the church with what nature supplies is part of the joy of Old Christmas. “We look forward to it every year,” they said.

The Old Christmas at Clay Hill service will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 at Clay Hill Church.

The church is located off Highway 93 at Pronto between Brundidge and Banks on County Road 4408.

Everyone is invited to dress warmly and come and celebrate Christmas the way it was meant to be celebrated – simply and from the heart.