Nothing says Christmas more than an e-mail titled “Experience the Holiday Traditions of 18th-Century Slaves.”
“Christmas was a particularly difficult time of year for slaves,” says Martin. Christmas was the time when slave families were most likely to be split up. “Anyone can take a lash, but if you’re free, no one can take away your family,” Martin said, describing the harsh reality for slaves.
The title of the program, “Kate’s Christmas Box,” refers to the tradition of giving boxes to servants and slaves at Christmas. This box was not necessarily a gift; Martin says it was more appropriately considered to be a supplement to one’s rations. Many slaves’ boxes, including Kate’s, contained a cut of meat, such as a pig’s tail.
In modern times, the Virginia elite simply put a deer’s head in a black family’s mailbox.
WHAT HOLIDAYS WERE LIKE FOR THE ENSLAVED [Colonial Williamsburg]