How US Slaves Celebrated Christmas

During the Christmas season, plantation masters allowed their slaves to celebrate Christmas in a variety ways. Some slaves were given a yule log to burn in the big house. As long as the log burned, they were granted rest during the holiday. Consider this interesting bit of data from genealogist and author Katie Brown Bennett.

Upon completing her research, Bennett wrote a book titled, “Soaking the Yule Log,” which refers to a story she learned about masters and slaves. It was said to be tradition that masters would give their slaves a Christmas break for as long as the yule log would burn. Showing their ingenuity, some slaves learned to soak the log in water to make it burn more slowly.

Some masters were more liberal than others and permitted their slaves to go into town, visit friends and relatives; and even spend time with former masters. [ source: Black Recreation: A Historical Perspective; p 71 and p 98]

Another celebration known as _______________, also referred to as a “Christmas masquerade” and/or a “Christmas parade,” took place on the plantations. It was a basic traveling show in which the slave would put on makeshift costumes and go from house to house to perform for gifts and money.

Q: What is the name of the historic slave celebration that continues to this day?

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