Tag Archives: New Year’s Eve

Watch Night Service and Mahalia Jackson

I asked a friend how he usually spent his New Years Eve, he told me he often participates in ‘Watch Night Service’ every year. I was familiar with the tradition of going to church on New Years Eve, however was unfamiliar with the term ‘Watch Night Service.’ Thank you for the info Richard Smith!

At the end of this post I included two of my favorite Mahalia Jackson videos from YouTube. I post the videos in dedication to my sister Melanie and cousins; Kevin, Myca, Michelle and Myrna. (Get out your church fans y’all!)

Re-post by By onlinefellowship.org |

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 Afrocentric 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 congregations.

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 145 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.”

#MahaliaJackson, WatchNightService, #NewYearsEve, #GospelMucsic

Still Asking Why in 2013

peggy milesPost by : Peggy Miles

Today is New Year’s Eve, the shape of 2013 is visible and a bit daunting. We hover on the edge of the fiscal cliff, hoping we were smart enough to elect people who are smart enough to avert fiscal ruin for those of us earning far less than they do.

After today I will be on my way to turning 80. Yes.  My 70th. birthday was in November and we all know how time flies, so I am just gonna start telling people I am close to 80 and enjoy being told how young I look.

From my vantage point, as an elder in the community, there are so many things I don’t understand: why  the Washington NFL football team continues to use a racial offensive name; why we need instant communication 24/7 when most of what we have to share is of little real importance;  why we find it View amusing when an immigrant attempts to speak our language, it is their second language…most of us have barely managed our first…and we make no attempt to learn a few words in theirs; why parents think a Mohawk haircut is appropriate for a three year old; why our libraries are not as busy as the local discount stores; and other stuff like that.