New Year’s Food Traditions Part 1
“Watch Night,” or New Year’s Eve service, is an African-American southern religious tradition that dates back to the end of the Civil War. In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln declared his famous Emancipation Proclamation, which set slaves in Confederate territories free as of January 1, 1863. As a result, African Americans across much of the South held religious services, many of them secretly, in which they praised and worshiped God as they watched the New Year and freedom arrive. After the service people retired to a large space in the church or people's home to enjoy good down home food such as friend chicken, Hoppin John (black eyed peas and rice), corn bread, cakes, pies, and much more. This tradition continues today in predominately black congregations across many parts of the United States.