MY NIECE JAEDYN AMARI EMERSON OF BRANDEIS HIGH SCHOOL IN SAN ANTONIO HAS BEEN MISSING SINCE LAST NIGHT. SHE IS 15 AND WAS LAST SEEN WEARING SHORTS AND A TUBE TOP. HER AUNT TALKED TO HER AT 5 30 THIS MORNING. PLEASE CALL MY MOTHER, HER GRANDMOTHER, CHERYL EMERSON AT 210 445-6120 IF YOU SEE OR SPEAK TO HER.
December 31, 1862 the first Watch Night Services were celebrated in black communities in America.
The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as “Freedom’s Eve.” Residents of Rochester, New York, joined Frederick Douglass in a vigil in anticipation of the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect at midnight. On that night, enslaved and “free” Afrikans came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. At the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863; all enslaved in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God.
Amerikkkan Afrikans have gathered in churches annually on New Year’s Eve ever since, being thankful for safely through another year. It’s been over a century since the first Freedom’s Eve and tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate “how we got over.” This celebration takes many African American decendants of slaves into a new year with praise and worship. The service usually begins anywhere from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and ends at midnight with the entrance of the New Year. Some people come to church first, before going out to celebrate, for others, church is the only New Year’s Eve event.
There have been instances where clergy in mainline denominations questioned the propriety of linking religious services with a secular holiday like New Year’s Eve. However, there is a reason for the importance of New Year’s Eve services in the black experience in America.
The African American Desk Reference Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Image and commentary via Dr. Jeff Winbush