Picture of single persimmon on a branch - backlit

Persimmon Celebration & Culture

(Diospyros virginiana: the common, or American persimmon)


Picture of branch with persimmons
Diospyros virginiana L. (common persimmon)History, Cultivation, Celebration and Culture, Natural History, BotanyHealth & Nutrition, Culinary Use (recipes), Commercial, Entertainment, News, Links, SourcesHomeContact us!

"Christmas comes but once a year, eggnog and 'simmon beer."
--traditional southern song (1800s)

Persimmons occupied an important place in the history and tradition of both native peoples and later, European settlers.  Persimmons ripen very late in the year, and may even persist on branches until well after frost.  This makes the harvest of persimmons possible long after the harvest of most of the more conventional crops.   Additionally, the persimmon harvest occurs very near the time of many traditional harvest celebrations, Thanksgiving, and later, Christmas. 

I believe persimmon pudding to be the pinnacle of showcasing the delicate flavors of our native persimmons.  Many feel these holidays would be lacking without the smell of persimmon pudding baking in the oven spreading through the house.  The myriad of recipes for food and drink using persimmons is a testiment to their versatility.

 This convergence of time of harvest, availability, and versatility, understandably leads to their place at the celebratory table and their part in the traditions of several cultures.  It is of little surprise then, that the reverence for persimmons has resulted in festivals, and family memories for a lot of people living in this tree's native range.  

If you would like to contribute your family memories of persimmons, or any festivals not mentioned here, please contact me.  

Colfax Persimmon Festival, Colfax, North Carolina

Persimmon Festival, Mitchell, Indiana:

Each year since 1946, the town of Mitchell, Indiana has hosted a Persimmon Festival.   Of particular interest at the Mitchell Persimmon Festival is the annual Persimmon Pudding eating contest, and Persimmon Pudding Contest.  And if you go to their website, you'll find the winning persimmon pudding recipes since 2001. 

In 2005, the Persimmon Festival lasted for NINE days and included a long list of events such as a
parade down Main Street, ball, pageants, candlelight tour, road rally, various dinners and breakfasts, golf scramble, tennis tournament, horseshoe tournament, 3 on 3 basketball competition, soccer games,  carnival, various serv ices, musical acts, blood drive, antique farm equipment show, antique car show, historic walk, and various food cookoffs.  Use this link for additional information as well as a Persimmon Festival program to download.   You can also go to the Mitchell Times website ( the town's newspaper) for more information and pictures.

Persimmon Party, Taylorville, IL:

Every year in Taylorville, IL (central Illinois), the Christian County Historical Society holds a Persimmon Party.  This year, the 24th such party is being held November 15-16, 2008 (11:00 AM to 4:00 PM).  It is held on the Christian County Historical Society & Museum Grounds.
There are free samples of persimmon foods to sample at the tasting table.  You can purchase various persimmon foods as well as buy frozen persimmon pulp (1 cup containers for $3.50).  

The 1989 award-winning cookbook of 137 recipes entitled, "Persimmons" is also available at the Persimmon Party.  This cookbook was compiled by the late
Mary Ann Durbin and Pearl Luttrell and at one time was sold all over the country.  If you can't make the Persimmon Party, you can also purchase the cookbook via mailorder ($8.00 shipped) from the mailing address below.  There will also be barbecue, honey, and other items.  Donations will support the museum.  

The Historical Society property was once a 700-acre farm.  It now sits on about an acre at the intersection of Route 29 and Route 48 in Taylorville.  The property contains eight buildings.  These buildings include a "bee castle" which is a a unique apiary from 1880.  The Bee Castle consists of a building with slats for bee entry (color coordinated).  Inside, square bee frames were lined up by the slats and there was a central aisle on the brick floor on which to walk.   There is also a one-room schoolhouse from 1856, and the first Christian County Courthouse - a place where Abraham Lincoln once practiced law.  Lodging is available near the property.  For more information you may contact :

Christian County Historical Society
Post Office Box 254,
Taylorville, IL  62568

or call:

(217) 824-6922 (open 3 days a week: Thursday, Friday, & Saturday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM).  You can also leave a message.

or email the
Christian County Historical Society by clicking here.