Or as someone changed it Dinner All Day and Preachin’ on the Ground.
Here in Missouri as the population grew, small churches spring up in rural communities. A popular celebration was everyone going to church for services and sharing lunch before having another service or a singin’ before going home. Yes, it was called preachin’ and singin’. We hill folks often dropped our g’s.
The ladies brought their specialties for lunch. Potato salad, sweet potatoes with sugar syrup of course, cake, and pie. My mother’s specialty was hot rolls. I can smell them now. She made them in a large baking pan and the rolls overflowed the sides of the pan.
In early days, the meat provided might be wild game. My grandmother told the story of having nothing to take to the church dinner. She was ashamed they were so poor they didn’t have anything to share. So she and her sister-in-law improvised and cooked a possum. She said everyone complimented her on the meat and didn’t think anything about the fact that it was possum.
If the church had a table or two to take outside, lunch was spread on the tables. In a pinch, a couple of boards on sawhorses would suffice. Little girls wore their best dresses and were careful not to get them dirty as they sat on the ground to eat.
I discovered the practice went back to Old Testament times. Many of the Jews had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. They had rebuilt the temple and the walls of the city. They came together in Jerusalem to hear Ezra, priest and teacher read from the Law.
Ezra, the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for that purpose. All the people stood up as Ezra read from the Law of Moses. Ezra read from daybreak until noon and all the people listened.
Afterward the Governor Nehemiah told them to be joyful, to go home and eat and drink. He also instructed them to share with those who did not have food.