Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Servitude...

What did Christmas mean to those whose greatest gift would be freedom? Were slaves even able to enjoy the holiday? Some realized a temporary break from the backbreaking work of everyday life. For others, it was just another day of servitude.

Here are three different accounts of Christmas in the 1800s as seen through the eyes of Texas slaves (as taken from the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-38):

—”Every Christmas ‘fore ole marster die he fix me up a tree out in de woods. Dey put popco’n on it to trim it and dey give me sometime a purty dress or shoes and plenty candy and maybe a big, red apple…” Mandy Hadnot, Cold Springs

—”’Come Christmas,’ Miss Ellen say, ‘Harriet, carry de Christmas tree in and de holly and evergreens.’ Den she puts de candles on de tree and hangs de stockin’s up for de white chillen and de black chillen.” Harriet Jones, Clarksville

—”De only frolics I ’member was candy pullin’s on Christmas. Dat all us...knowed ’bout Christmas.” Emma Watson, Ellis Co.

Did you know? Christmas was recognized as a legal holiday in Texas in 1879.

No comments: