No matter where this New Year’s Eve finds you, here are a few ideas you might contemplate as you look forward to 2013:
It is no wonder that the church was chosen as the place where African American ancestors waited out the last hours of enslavement on Freedom’s Eve which has come to be known as Watch Night.
The church was often the safe house and commonly the gathering place for those on their way North to freedom.
See ‘Thenceforth and Forever Free’ ‘Watch Night’ service rooted in history.’
Most African American churches will still commemorate this event on Monday night. For many, it will not be a celebration for partying and being fancy free, but many people of color will gather to worship and give thanks in anticipation of another year’s coming blessings.
Hope and anticipation can evidenced in “A New Year’s Prayer” by W. E. B. DuBois in Prayers for Dark People:
“We pray tonight, O God, for confidence in ourselves, our powers and our purposes in this beginning of a New Year
Ward us from all lack of faith and hesitancy and inspire in us not only the determination to do a year’s work well, but the unfaltering belief that what we wish to do, we will do.
Such faith, O Lord, is born of Works
Every deed accomplished finishes not only itself but is fallow ground for future deeds
Abundantly endow us, Our Father, with this deed-born Faith Amen.”
Traditions and myths; you decide
- Black-eyed peas are considered good luck because they were thought fit only for slaves and farm animals to eat. Black-eyed peas were in good supply when nothing else was left behind.
- Cabbage, collard, mustard and turnip greens are served because they are thought to bring more money during the year.
- Whatever you are doing when the year goes out will be what you will be doing the New Year throughout, so there is no shortage of hugs and kisses at midnight.
- A clean house on New Year’s means a clean house throughout the year.
See “New Year’s Myths & Traditions” (Ebony, January 2008, pg 56).
What are some of the New Year traditions or myths passed down in your family? Please share them on the National African American History Examiner Facebook page. Don’t forget to click “subscribe” above so that you will be among the first to receive the next article.