Previously in the history of the Ozark Mountains Christmas was celebrated in the best way the mountain folks could. They didn't have a Wal Mart store on every corner in fact some of the smaller mountain villages didn't even have a corner they only had a short row of buildings lined up along a little brook in a Ozark Mountain canyon. You see many of these creeks and rivers were intended for water power that was then used to mill grain into flour and even to power saw mills to make lumber to build their shops and stores. Most of the Ozark mountain folk lived in log cabins as they didn't have funds to buy expensive boards. They considered themselves fortunate if they had enough boards to build a door, table, beds, chairs, and maybe some shelves. They felt really fortunate if they had more than one window in the cabin.
They didn't feel they were poor or suppressed like folks do today when they didn't have everything in the world. They would put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with some popcorn chains made by stringing popcorn on a thread into a kind of garland. They would carve something out of wood for family gifts or make something out of furs they trapped or sew something out of store bought textile. They would put a candle in the window and invite the neighbors over for a little Christmas sing along with perhaps someone playing a fiddle and someone on a wash tub base. Maybe someone played the harmonica, jug saw or juice harp or maybe even the spoons. They had a little moonshine to get really in the Holiday mood.
When electricity came to the villages they had grown to several streets above the stream level and they would decorate their tree, home, street corner and even their buggy. When the railroad was pushed through the Ozark Mountains mostly for freight and logging it also brought in friends and family from outside. Soon they started talking about all the fun that was going on in the Ozark Mountains during Christmas and the tourist or visitors started to trickle in. Some of the older towns like Forsyth, Branson, Mountain Hope, Mountain Home, Ozark and Harrison really enjoyed having the visitors come so they started putting on larger and larger entertainment for the folks. These visitors brought in money that the mountain villages needed to make more improvements.
The Baldknobbers Jamboree, Branson's first country music and comedy show, started a tradition that goes back to 1959 when brothers Bill, Jim, Lyle and Bob Mabe began entertaining visitors in downtown Branson in the basement of Branson City Hall. Katie and Joyce (wives of Bill and Jim) donning country dresses and walking around Branson’s small downtown area with signs announcing the show.
Another group was looking for a place to put on their performance and had heard of a huge cave up in the Ozark Mountains called Marble cave and the owners were giving tours of the cave and they said they could use some entertainment to help bring in more customers even while it was way up in the hills. That cave (Marble) was later renamed (Marvel) because the marble they thought was in the cave was not actually marble. The road to the cave was curved as it wound up the mountain ridge and they recently had electricity installed to marvel cave. That musical/hillbilly comedy group was known as the Presleys.
That mountain road now is lined from one end to the other with Ozark Mountain Show Theaters and known as highway 76 or Country Music Blvd. The Presleys moved half way to town and bought some property along that mountain road and build the famed Presley Theater and they were the first show on the strip and later the Baldknobbers moved up the valley and build a theater, restaurant and motel. Today there are over 50 Theaters in Branson and they have over 100 shows in them and the visitors have more seats available in Branson than in New York City.
Getting back to Branson and the Ozark Mountain Country Christmas these novel mountain folks were very religious and they built a church in every village and they all celebrated Christmas with great Ozark Mountain Christian Christmas music. All the shows put special Christmas shows on starting in early November running through Christmas. These shows are huge and with great Christmas decorations everywhere it is truly what is called "A Ozark Mountain Christmas". This time of year is really the preferred time of the year to visit Branson and the contiguous area. Numerous cities have city lighting as well as unique Christmas roads of lights with thousands of lights and lighted figures and characters.
After Christmas the shows go on vacation and the visitors leave and things really slow back down and the Ozark Mountain Country takes a long winter nap. Ten Thousand folks in the Branson area have been known to entertain ten million visitors a year and next year they will even try to outdo themselves in providing a Ozark Mountain Christian Chrstmas.