Date: Wed, 1862-12-31
*On This date in 1862 the first Watch Night Services were celebrated by free and enslaved African Americans all across America.
The Watch Night service can be traced back to gatherings also known as “Freedom’s Eve.” On September 22 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, in which he declared that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in states in rebellion against the Union "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
On the night of December 31,1862. Black slaves and free blacks 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 slaves 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.
Now today: African Americans continue to gather in churches annually on New Year's Eve, praising God for bringing us 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.
From Eastern Shore Network for Change Facebook Page