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President for Life Field Marshall Doctor Bluedog D
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The History of Watch Night Services

Many of you who live or grew up in Black communities in the United States
have probably heard of "Watch Night Services," the gathering of the faithful
in church on New Year's Eve. 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 folks come to church first, before going out to celebrate. For others,
church is the only New Year's Eve event. Like many others, I always assumed
that Watch Night was a fairly standard Christian religious service made a
bit more Afro centric because that's what happens when elements of
Christianity become linked with the Black Church.

Still, it seemed that predominately White Christian churches did not include
Watch Night services on their calendars, but focused instead on Christmas
Eve programs. In fact, there were instances where clergy in mainline
denominations wondered aloud about 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 African American

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, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all
across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation
Proclamation actually had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it
was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared
legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and
songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God.

Black folks have gathered in churches annually on New Year's Eve ever since,
praising God for bringing us safely through another year. It's been 141
years since that first Freedom's Eve and many of us were never taught the
African American history of Watch Night, but tradition still brings us
together at this time every year to celebrate "how we got over."

12,413 Posts
A baptist church I used to attend back when I first become a born again did a New Years service and then we would go to the young professionals precher's house where the church band would play and there would be plenty of food, but no alcohol. It was a nice change from the let's go drunk and puke stuff I was used to.

8,233 Posts
Custer said:
Won't this diminish Kwanzaa?
Dang, Custer..........ya beat me to it.
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