I’ve gathered some materials about “Watch Night” that I’m adding to The Best Sites For Learning About New Year Celebrations.
Watch Night is particularly celebrated in African-American churches and commemorates when many African-Americans gathered to pray that President Abraham Lincoln would carry out his promise to sign the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Here are two newspaper articles that give more background on the midnight prayer services (you probably have to modify portions to make them more accessible to English Language Learners), and a slideshow from the New York Times.
Fascinating (you really must be getting tired of my monosyllabic praise…) – had never heard of it, though, but will hitherto direct my students’ attention to it when “dealing with” The American Dream (which is a curriculum topic in our Year 12 English courses in Germany) – this is bound to add another new facet to understanding the Promise your country holds (after having discovered this gem of a play, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” which – strangely! – is virtually unknown over here, that is…)