Pastors' Blog Collard Stealing

Okay, I know it sounds weird, but there really was a practice on Old Christmas (January 6) in Eastern North Carolina called "Collard Stealing Night".  I made an oblique reference to the practice in a sermon and folks laughed in a display of incredulity.

I know of collard stealing because my venerable father participated in this festivity growing up as a teenager in Duplin County, NC.  Well friends, here's the skinny from a journal article called  “Collards in North Carolina,” by Edward H. Davis and John T. Morgan, published in the May 2005 issue of Southeastern Geographer, a publication of the University of North Carolina Press:

The numerous references by elderly informants to the widespread practice of “collard stealing” as a Christmas season recreational activity during the 1920s and 1930s confirms the ubiquitous presence of collard patches during that period in eastern North Carolina. Collard stealing was engaged in by groups of teenagers who would spend hours on a cold December night walking the dirt roads and trails of their rural communities to play tricks on people thought to be wealthy or eccentric. Participants in a few areas participated in collard stealing in early January as a part of the celebration of Old Christmas. In this folk activity, a few mature collard plants would be pulled from a roadside garden, then taken to a nearby residence and dropped on the front steps. The celebrating youths would then knock on the door of the unsuspecting recipients of the collards, yell loudly and run away. The offended residents would answer the door to discover their gift of collards. During the hard times of the Great Depression, the practice of collard stealing was sometimes feigned by teens who would bring stolen col- lards to their own homes and leave them on their steps or porches. Their unsuspecting parents would discover the collards the next morning, and think they were left by mischievous neighbor kids. Then, of course, they would cook and eat the needed food.