Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dollywood Entertainment Manager, Roger White.
Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas festival has always been somewhat of an enigma to me. Sounds weird, right? It’s not that I don’t understand the lights, colors, smells, sounds and, most importantly, the spiritual undercurrents that run throughout. I more than understand it. I FEEL it. I think we all do. It’s the scheduling of it! Christmastime comes at the end of the year. But, in so many ways, Smoky Mountain Christmas (and Christmas in general) is a BEGINNING. It’s not a finality. The fresh decorations, the complete changeover of all of the theaters and shows, the switch in culinary offerings and merchandise products. Wow! It’s all new!
In “An Appalachian Christmas,” the group sings about a country Christmas, taking us back to how things were done back in the day.
Through our Santa experience (Santa’s List… Naughty or Nice), we celebrate the simple joy and wonder of believing in Santa Claus as young children do so honestly.
The Kingdom Heirs tell of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Who actually does that anymore? The way they perform that song is fresh and unique – a total departure from their normal musical fare – something new.
“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” tells the story of a family experiencing new beginnings all over the place: parents with kids away from home, kids being away from home during the holidays and a little girl questioning her Christmas beliefs. That’s a lot to unpack, but it’s a beginning that families all over the world have experienced countless times as they return to Dollywood to see this show every Christmas season!
Dollywood’s flagship show, “Christmas in the Smokies,” has many beginnings, too! Two young people fall in love and become engaged. A mother experiences the start of a change in family dynamics. Of course, the story of the angel Gabriel in song, speaking with Mary and Joseph about the beautiful newness of a marriage and a very unique pregnancy.
Why, even the Christian church year starts anew on the first Sunday of December, or Advent (the four weeks leading up to Christmas). The word “Christmas” literally means “Christ’s Mass.” According to Wikipedia: Christmas is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on Dec. 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A birth is certainly a beginning – especially the birth of the most important person ever to walk the earth.
I call upon everyone to celebrate Smoky Mountain Christmas as the START of the year, not the end of the year. All roads certainly lead that way, right?
Let’s look at the dialogue of the shepherds from the script from perhaps Dollywood’s most beloved Christmas show – “O Holy Night”:
Nathaniel: What about the star?
(Jacob points wordlessly)
Nathaniel: It’s… do you see that? It’s…
Michael: It’s moving.
Jacob: Stars don’t move.
Nathaniel: It’s the end of the world.
Michael: No, it’s not. It’s the beginning. Come on!
Come with us! Enjoy a show. Enjoy a new beginning.