Holiday Traditions

“It’s my favorite time of the year when leaves fall and winter draws near…”

When one mentions the holidays now, most people think of December, but for thousands of years, we have developed traditions for the most important time of the year for the agricultural world as the Harvest Home, the celebration of the “Last sheath cut”. This, with the Autumn Equinox, the old Celtic new year, gave us our modern Haloween, Thanksgiving, Harvest Fairs, Hayrides, Apple festivals, and Corn Mazes. It is the gate of winter, the time of transition in a very real sense, from the vibrant green of summer to the cold solitude of winter. So let us celebrate together with our own cycle of music and song. Here’s to your Holiday Traditions!

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Holiday Traditions: Art, Lyrics, Stories

Holiday Traditions

Jan wrote this song around 2007 when the idea first began to evolve for what she saw as an interactive double CD with music and sound effects, that you could put on in the background while you hoasted a party. She talked about including recipes, party ideas, and the like, but there didn’t seem to be a way for us to go that direction then. We did record this song in, and I began doing sound effects beds, but we needed more material to sing and we had no venue at the time as I was working retail, and shortly after Jan had a TIA, followed by heart surgery, and the project never happened. We dusted off the idea two years ago and had another run at it, but once again, health issues stopped us dead in our tracks. Jan had a full-on stroke and lost her ability to sing and play. We didn’t talk about it much after that, but I knew it would always be a sore point. We looked for a workaround and were kicking around interesting ideas, which resulted in our Patreon page and the “Radio” version with narration which she could do, along with some cooking videos she had planned, but her death came before any of that could happen.
So this becomes the last unpublished song of hers that she sang herself, the keystone to the project which after 12 years, I can share with you now.

Holiday Traditions

  Music and lyrics    by    Janice Goldsberry

 Blue skies, green and grassy fields, children running to and fro in play, 
Lazy days restin’ in the shade, 
watchin’ the clouds float by and drinkin’ lemonade
But it’s my favorite time of year…
When the leaves fall and winter draws near…
It’s those…

Holiday traditions, Holiday Ties
Bringing us together under those gray and cloudy skies.
Oh, the gray days don’t get me down 
When my loved ones gather ‘round, you know it’s…
Those days that make me smile 
The memory of those days just makes me smile

To see the bright and shining eyes of the children as we trim the tree 
The smell of goodies baking, a mug of spicy tea
Snowflakes falling gently to the ground 
Voices raised in song in song, what a lovely sound.
You know it’s my favorite time of year…
When the leaves fall and winter draws near…
It’s that…

Holiday traditions, Holiday Ties
Bringing us together under those gray and cloudy skies
Oh the gray days don’t get me down
When my loved ones gather ‘round, you know it’s…
Those days that make me smile
The memory of those days just makes me smile 

Winnowing The Wheet

I wrote this tune on the mountain dulcimer while willing away hour in a dulcimer shop waiting for customers in the offseason. The rhythm of the tune made me think of the tossing of the wheat into the wind in a threshing barn, an experience I’m sure everyone can relate to.

Winnowing the Wheat

Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

To My Garden

When we started back to work on this project a couple of years ago, Jan thought to take a longer look at the day might be the way to go, including heading out to the garden and the chickens. A few months ago as I sat contemplating how to do all this, I remembered the idea and could see so vividly her visiting her garden in late fall, after the harvest, and putting it to bed for the winter. A garden in fall can be bittersweet, watching all you have tended going away, even though we know that It will rise up as a new garden in the spring. Jan always loved her gardens, so even though I wrote this after her death, it is with her voice I hear it in my head, and I see her in her most joyful setting.

To My Garden

                                               Music   and  Lyrics   by  John  Goldsberry

Good Morning Garden, so I say
Now that summers slipped away
you’ve grown so green and tall
now you stand ready to face the fall
and fall we must to rise another day

But while we can we shall not morn
I’ll harvest seeds and dry your corn
I’ll dig your roots and gently keep them
cool and safe within my celler
tell the spring when you shall be reborn


And so the dance goes on and on
none of us shall dance er long
so let us spin and dance and play
and love each other come what may

To all my little chickens by my side
Eating bugs for you, that helps the garden thrive
You give me eggs, we keep you safe
We’ll shield you from the colds embrace
Our plesent conversations, through the winter we’ll abide

These herbs shall from the rafters dry
I smell these flowers and I sigh
How I shall miss you every night
I’ll count the days tell lengthening light
It’s hard without you truly, but I’ll try

With fiery reds and orange around me
through all these years it still astounds me
joy and sadness still have bound me
such is life and love and loss..

Chorus (x2)

Ode to Apples

I seem to be including a poem in each one of these recordings, so here’s my trip to the orchard:

Ode To Apples

a Poem b     y John Goldsberry

With muted thumps the apples fall
With careful aim from atop our ladders
Into the outstretched blanket held
With four corners of family

Gathering corners like a dance
We shuffle to the wagons baskets
Toddlers’ cradle windfall treats
Shiny globes of autumn colors

Cool and crisp the morning air
Sweet and earthy melds in fragrance
Sunshine scatters the morning mist
To heighten the contrast of lengthening shadows

Chestnut shire hitched to the wagon
Nigh 16 hands of gentle strength
Through the years our close companion
Eats apples proffered by our young

Now children nestled amongst the baskets
And leather rains in practiced hands
We trundle off with the weight of harvest
We walk together through the land

Old worn boots scuff through the weeds
That loose there seeds to loamy earth
My eyes turn up to rusty leaves
And deep sapphire sky beyond

 Green and red and golden hewed
These fruits drank sun and summer rains
 To distil this scent of autumn sweet
That fills our heads with musings

Drink in fall and listen closely
Family laughing with delight
Dusty stamps of horseshoed footfalls
Sheep and crows and creaky wheels

Through the gate and across the bridge
That spans the sparkling valley stream
Past the pen of Glouster Old Spots
Soon to the orchard loosed to gleen

Up the road along the hedgerows
 Ripe with berries, flush with birds
Squirrels and hedgehogs grow fat for the winter
Feasting on their harvest spread

So now the yield of time and spirit
Blessings to our kitchens come
Our hands can cradle such perfection
Held in natures simple form

 Slices, chutneys, sauce and syrup
We fill our larder for the winter
Baskets full of fragrant orbs
That hint of future pies to come

While in the old stone millhouse this
Abundance from the earth has come
I taste the cider on my lips
Such sweet anticipation

Round the Suffolk Sorrel he turns
Our nostrils’ steam in morning cold
The wheel it turns and so the years
Connecting generations

Now cellars stocked and cider casked’
The creaking wooden press is cleaned
Until the next year’s harvest comes
From our gracious apple trees

So when winter blows trough branches bare
And pigs have gleaned the orchards’ clean
We wassail the trees and give our thanks
For the blessings of the seasons.

Me and My Very Best Friend

Alternatively called “Running Through Meddows” this was one of Jan’s personal favorites, so much so that she wove its lyrics into a children’s story she wrote called Nina of the Pink Hair.” Maybe it’s imagery is a bit more summer, but I think it fits the autumn just as well. I wrote the last verse to sum it up.

My Very Best Friend

      Lyrics by Janice Goldsberry (completed by John) Melody by Janice Goldsberry

Running through meadows the wind in my hair

Gazing at clouds as they pass through the air

Climbing old fences or wading a stream

Picking wildflowers like you’ve never seen

Fishing for tadpoles of chasing a frog

Walking the length of an old weathered log

Closing my eyes and spinning around

Helpless with laughter we fall to the ground


These are the thing that I’d do as a child

Oh, to be a child again

No need to worry just go on my way

Just me and my very best friend

Awed by a sunset of colors so bright

Watching the firefly’s light up the night

skipping a stone cross a Christal clear creek

Flying away on a swing in a tree

Laughing at squirrels that race through the trees

Singing along to the hum of the bees

I know this love in me, it never shall part

I’m never alone with this joy in my heart

These are the things we knew as a child

Oh, to be my child again

To love without thinking, to know without doubt

That we are our very best friends

The Ingathering/Sing the Harvest Home

The harvest home and the hock cart are very old and mostly extinct traditions in rural England. Robert Herrick (1591-1674 / London / England)  wrote a poem about it in which h spoke of “The harvest swains and wenches bound for joy, to see the Hock-cart crown’d. Crown’d with the ears of corn, now come, and to the pipe sing Harvest Home.” Mechanized farming made the scything of fields archaic but a few groups still intact the old ways. The poem at the beginning is, for the most part, traditional. I used my official creative license to change a few nonsense lyrics. The song itself is my own invention, my contribution to the long legacy of call and response fieldwork songs designed to keep a rhythm for the workers to scythe too in relatively perfect choreography.

Sing the Harvest Home 

 Lyrics and Melody by John Goldsberry
Sing the harvest home, the sickles swing the barley falls
Sing the harvest home, It won’t be long before the winter comes
There’s bright red apples on the tree…As we walk out in the mornin’
No finer place I’d rather be…As we walk out in the mornin’
A fresh corn dolly’ll crown our doors…as we walk the golden fields
Our happy hearts can ner be poor…as we walk the golden fields
The sun slips up and or’ our heads…as we clear the fields towards evnin’
We’ll cut the neck afore we’re bed… as we clear the fields towards evnin’
We’ll load the hock cart’n hitch the team…We’ll fill the barns ta’ burstin’
No finer harvest ever seen…We’ll fill the barns ta’ burstin’
A pile of beef and cider cold…We’ll dance until the mornin’
We’ll laugh and sing, our loves to hold…We’ll dance until the mornin’

Punkie Night

“Punkie” is an old English name for a lantern. On Punkie Night, around the time of Samhain, these would be made of swedes or mangel-wurzels. pumpkins, a new world crop, were rare in those times in Brittain. Farmers would also be known to put a Werzel “Punkie” on their gates to ward off marauding ghosts Throughout the English Westcountry, children once marched through the town for treats and as this song attests (based on the old rhyme,) candles, which were a luxury for the poor.
Similar traditions exist in other Celtic cultures, with similar names such as Pooky night in Ireland, Pwca in Wales and Bucca in Cornwall all being Celtic names for fairies, leaving the origins of the name more uncertain.

Punkie Night

Lyrics and Music by John Goldsberry based on tradition

Mangle werzels from the ground, grow so big and fat and round
We’ll dig you up and brush you off and take you back to town
Washed and hollowed , nice and clean, We’ll make our marks and add a string
And from a poll we’ll let you swing the finest lamp arround

For when the shadows start to creap we’ll stop them with your light
We need you all to lead the way to roam on Punkie night
Give us a candle, give us a light, If you dont you’ll get a fright
If you havent a candle a pennys all right
It’s ours to ask on Punkie Night

So when the shadows out will reach and spirits like the owls screach
and through the woods the wind it howels and gives us such a fright
We’ll hold our lanterns in the air, we’ll round the town without a care
It’s ours to march and laugh and sing Hurrah for Punkie Night!

For when the shadows start to creap we’ll stop them with your light
We need you all to lead the way to roam on Punkie night
Give us a candle, give us a light, If you dont you’ll get a fright
If you havent a candle a pennys all right
It’s ours to ask on Punkie Night

A Funny Song

When we started doing Renaissance festivals, Jan wanted a song she could sing for kids that they could sing along on. We were going to make sculped “Dancing Dandy” style puppets to tap out the song on paddles and worked out a cute routine. Very sweet memories wrapped up in this one.

A funny Song

Lyrics and Melody by Janice Goldsberry
You say you want a funny song, I’ll sing you one right now
About a pretty little milk maid and her polka-dated cow
Who gave polka-dotted milk in a polka-dotted pail
And they danced down the lane in the morning
dancing down the lane in the morning.
Oh..Ho.. the flowers grow, the wind blows wild and free
If I could have my way, I’d spend each and every day
In the present company
You say you want a funny song, I’ll sing you one today
About a hansom farmer boy and his horse that hatted hay
Who only wanted coco in a battered pewter cup
And to dance down the lane in the morning
dancing down the lane in the morning.
You say you want a funny song, I have just the one for you
About a fancy pirate sailor and his singing cockatoo
Who only sang the tune and words to Auld Lang syne
While they danced down the lane in the morning
 dancing down the lane in the morning.
You say you want a funny song, I have this one about a goat
Who spent his time in pink pajamas and a purple petticoat
Sipping vanilla cappuccinos and nibbling chocolate souffles
Then he’d dance down the lane in the morning
You say you want a funny song here’s one that might surprise
It seems a baker’s wife was shocked one day as she was putting out her pies
To see a cow, a horse, a cockatoo, and a petty coated goat
All go dancing down the lane in the morning. dancing down the lane in the morning

The Golden Bough

Jan wrote this Instrumental back in the early ’90s. as a Hammered Dulcimer Duet number for our shows at Silver Doller City in Branson MO. I asked her what she called it, and she playfully answered “The Golden Bough”. I was impressed, then she laughed and confessed she had just read the bright orange slipcover of Sir James George Frazer’s’ classic book which was right behind my head where I sat. The name stuck, and here we are.

The Golden Bough

Music by Janice Goldsberry

Watch the Sun Go Down

Jan dives into Old-time Ozark music with this great bouncy classic from 1991

Watch The Sun Go Down

Lyrics and Music by Janice Goldsberry

Nothing I can think of could be finer than the sight

of soft golden meadows in the pale moonlight

so cuddle up and hold your little sweetheart tight

and help us watch the sun go down

Daddy, Mary Lou and little Bobby Joe

Are pickin’ up the fiddles and away we go

Unkle Frank is strummin’ on his old banjo

just to help us watch the sun go down

were sittin’ and a swayin’ on an old porch swing

pickin’ and a-singin’ like anything

all the little children dancin’ in a ring

won’t you help us watch the sun go down

heavy work behind us at the end of the day

Come and sit a spell now Ma, what do you say?

Work’l be a-watin’ for you anyway

won’t you help us watch the sun go down

come and help us watch the sun go down

Well livin’ off the land is a hard sort-a life

It’s early in the mornin’ tell there’s no more light

It takes laughter and song to ease the worry and strife

So help us watch the sun go down.

The Three Ravins/The Nos Kalan Gwav Watchers

“The Three Ravens” is the one tune in this collection that is not an original. In fact, it is the oldest song I know. it was included in the songbook Melismata compiled by Thomas Ravenscroft and published in 1611, but it is far older than that. It is a medieval tune that has been theorized as the last remaining fragment of a lost story cycle similar to the Arthurian tales. The exact meaning of the song is lost to history however and many theories abound as to the symbolism within. The mystery only seems to add to the haunting feel of this ancient modal melody. The second tune is one of mine and refers to the painting Jan did on the front cover, The All Hallows Watchers. Nos Kalan Gwav is Cornish for the eve of the first day of winter which in the Celtic lands and lore November 1st. The watchers refer to not only the “Punkies”, but if you look closely there are five crows on the breast of the thatch at the far end of the street. In the old Celtic calendar in order to make up for the variations in the earth’s rotation in relation to the solar and lunar cycles, you ended up with five extra days. Those days were counted after the celebration of Samhain and became the days of the dead, outside of the normal calendar year. The crows live between the planes of reality, traveling back and forth and watch, as in Odens Ravens, seeing and remembering, and guiding the souls of the living and the dead across the vail that is traversable on this time. Crows and Ravens still figure often in our modern Halloween imagery. Happy New Year!

The Three Ravins/The Nos Kalan Gwav Watchers

Music by Who Knows and John Corbin Goldsberry

The Autumn Leaf Shuffle

Another Mt. Dulcimer Tune inspired by watching our kids kick up the leaves in our yard.

The Autumn Leaf Shuffle

Music By John Corbin Goldsberry

Racing the Storm

I cheated a bit here, I wrote this melody back in the ’70s when I first played at Silver Doller City in Branson MO. I had to do “Period” music, and I didn’t know enough so I made up a lot of “Old” tunes. I called it Marmarose, the name of the old mining town that had originally stood on the spot. Kind of a spur of the moment thing. All these years later, I pulled it out, dusted it off, and gave it a shiny new name. That’s called recycling and it’s a good thing!

Racing The Storm

Music by John Corbin Goldsberry

Thunder Over the Mountain

Jan wrote this in the ‘8os but never finished it. She had one verse and a chorus. After her death, I searched for it but it had vanished. It’s possible she had tossed it for some reason but I guess I’ll never know. I did find some old notes with two verse fragments and the bridge, and I remembered the chorus and the melody for that, so I pieced the song together and wrote chords for the verse.

Thunder over the mountain

Lyrics and Melody by Janice & John Corbin Goldsberry

Thunder over the mountain rumbling over my head
raining’ down like a fountain Soaking my earthly bed
I’ve known it all along this is my song and
tomorrow is my wedding day
no thunder over the mountain can keep me away

I left this mountain town when I was just 18
I’ve traveled far and wide always searching for dreams
I took an image of your face and left my heart behind
The chance I took on loosing you, I must have lost my mind

The rains kept coming down, but I thought maybe I could find
A place of sunshine somewhere else then maybe I’d be fine
But the clouds they never parted for me and I swear it’s true
deep inside I always knew my only light was you

I vowed that nothing in this word could stop me coming home
I’d never found an answer out there and always be alone
I’m happy that I’m back to stay and I shall never go away
The only place I want to be is where your love shines down on me


I pray that you’ll forgive me and I’ll give to you my heart
I promise to my dying day that we shall never part
And every footstep though the rain is closer to the light
The clouds are parting in my soul and guides me through the night

Down every road we travel well be side by side
Every storm that we endure we’ll hold our heads with pride
And every sorrow that we share we’ll hold eachs hand
And lean upon each others strength, at last I understand.

The rains not letting up and I can’t see the light of day
But walking through a raging storm seems a price I’m glad to pay


Painted Ponys

Jan wrote this, in the mid- ’80s for a women’s group she helped organize in Rodgers Arkansas. Somehow it never seemed to fit in any past projects, but somehow the melancholy nature fit the autumn feeling of a song shared amongst friends in a rainy get- together.

Pretty Painted Pony’s 

Music and Lyrics by Janice Goldsberry

Pretty painted pony circling up and down
Pretty lights and music your feet never touching the ground
There were times that I wished I could be like you
Making all the children’s dreams come true
You know there are times my pretty pony’s
around you go not thinking of what your missing
Or the life you’ll never know cause there’s nowhere you can go
While you’re making all the children’s dreams come true
but when I need to be a child
I need you to take me just for a while
Escape this crazy world and take me back to where I’ve been
Let me ride let me spin around
Don’t let my feet touch the ground
Take me with you my pretty painted friend.
Take me round and around and around and around
Don’t let my feet touch the ground
Take me with you my pretty painted friend.
I can see you smiling, and I know the reason why
You don’t let this world bother you nothing takes you by surprise
There were times that I wished I could be like you but
I know you can’t make all my dreams come true

No Judgment

At one time Jan had this song slated for the ending of The Circle Path but set aside for The Night Prayer instead. This one she forgot the melody for, and it existed only as a small scrap of paper with the lyrics in her folder of such. I’m happy it found a home here.

No Judgment

         Lyrics  by  Janice  Goldsberry   Melody  by  John Corbin  Goldsberry

It’s not black It’s not white
It isn’t day or night
It isn’t wrong or right
It just is what it is what it is
It’s not up or down
A smile or a frown
You swim or you drown
It just is what it is what it is
It’s not enemy of friends
The beginning or the end
If your ridged, you can’t bend
It just is what it is what it is
 It’s not the truth or a scam
Hell, or heaven be dammed
I am what I am it just is what it is
I am what I am it just is

Jan’s Art:
Celtic Labyrinth
Jan Painted this back in the ’90s as a small picture which sold in Fairfield Iowa to be used as wall decor for a restaurant/Tea Room. I only have one photo of it, so It’s not very big, but I used it on the Physical CD
This fine work exists to my only as a single overexposed photograph. It was painted and sold before Jan and I met, but to me, it reminded me of that late summer, early autumn nexis and the special magic the long shadows hold.
These two are happily and safely in the hands of our kids now and show Jans fondness for the season and its colors.
the All Hallows Watchers, the cover painting,is one of my treasures and resides in my personal gallery. It’s a view of the upper reaches of the village of Withe and Stone The Thach building is our new French Patissier!