...However, in doing some research, I discovered there are two essential reasons for the importance of New Year's Eve services in African American congregations. Many of the Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve." On that night, Americans of African descent came together in churches, gathering places and private homes throughout the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and according to Lincoln's promise, all slaves in the Confederate States were legally free. People remained in churches and other gathering places, eagerly awaiting word that Emancipation had been declared. When the actual news of freedom was received later that day, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God... (Reference)So as I mentioned, we had a beautiful service at my church. Afterwards, my immediate family traveled to visit with my dad's side of the family. There we had our annual New Year's Dinner. You know the tradition: black eyed peas, collard greens, etc. I even saw a pan of pig tails and a pot of chitterlings, better known as "chitlins".
There was a host of family there. Cousins I hadn't seen in a while, friends of the family. People were talking and eating and watching the game. Some where watching the latest cousin's wedding pictures on a laptop. Conversations were so diverse. And more family just kept coming. Once you got up out your seat, that was it! I even caught one cousin knocked out on the floor between the couches and the back door!
Before the night was over, a few of us went to another aunt's house and one person came back with a whole new hair style. That's family for you. :-)
Here are a few more pictures of our gathering in a slideshow. Brace yourself. :-)
My hope for all of us is that we have a blessed year!
Happy New Year!
New Year's image source.