As a young child, I loved to celebrate all the holidays but always wondered why we didn't have a special holiday of our own. Then we started celebrating Black History Month and Kwanzaa, and later I found out about Juneteenth and Pinkster. So today we have a few holidays that we can call our own. Pinkster was originally a Dutch celebration of Pentecost but the slaves re-invented it. I was reminded that Pinkster is being celebrated at Philipsburg Manor this year, thanks to an email from my friend Celesti Colds Fechter explaining the holiday.
Don't miss the Pinkster Festival at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow on Sunday, May 15.
If you think the "peculiar institution" of slavery was purely a southern thing,or that all American Blacks came from the south, think again. Come and celebrate Pinkster, a spring holiday unique to Blacks in northern communities first settled by the Dutch well before the American Revolution created the United States.
Pinkster was brought to the New World by Dutch settlers in the 1620s and flourished in the areas of heaviest Dutch settlement: the Hudson Valley,northern New Jersey, and western Long Island. These same areas also had significant populations of enslaved Africans from the 1600s until emancipation
in New York in 1827. For enslaved people in New Netherland, the year offered few holidays or breaks from tedious and often grueling work. For rural slaves in particular, who were often isolated from larger African communities, Pinkster became the most important break in the year. Filled with music, dance, food, and revelry, this cross-cultural festival re-creates the spring holiday with a rousing colonial-style celebration. Festivities include lively presentations of drumming and traditional dance, African folktales, and demonstrations of traditional African instruments and utilitarian wares.
For enslaved Blacks, gathering in rural areas or at urban markets, the holiday provided a day of temporary independence, in which they could make money and purchased goods. More importantly, Pinkster meant the opportunity to reunite with family and loved ones and the chance to preserve, reshape, and express African traditions despite the restrictions of enslavement. Pinkster also gave
enslaved Africans an opportunity to mock their white captors through caricatures of European fashions and behavior, and to voice their own anguish through speeches, storytelling, and improvised call and response singing.
The crowning of the Pinkster King, like the election of generals or governors during other holidays celebrated by African people elsewhere in the northeast, invested respected members of the African community with symbolic power over the whole community and with distinction within their own community. Celebrations featuring this sort of inversion of rank can be traced both to West African and European antecedents. Pinkster is related in this way to more famous New World festivals such as Mardi Gras.
Come to Philipsburg Manor to celebrate Pinkster and to learn about life on a restored manor (the northern version of a plantation). There will be fun and games for the whole family.
Buy tickets online in advance and SAVE $2 per ticket. Use the promo code KING.
Purchase tickets online at: http://www.hudsonvalley.org/pinkster/index.html