Juneteenth 2021: What is the meaning behind today and how is it celebrated?

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Juneteenth commemorates the abolishment of slavery in Texas (Picture: Getty)

Today is Juneteenth, a day which commemorates the abolishment of slavery in Texas in 1865.

The annual holiday feels particularly pertinent this year, as US President Joe Biden announced it would be celebrated as a federal holiday for the first time.

Signing the bill into law, Biden said it would be ‘one of the greatest honours of his presidency’.

But what is the meaning behind today, and how is it celebrated?

What is Juneteenth – why is it celebrated?

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States which took place on June 19, 1865.

On this day, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Grander, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war was over and that the enslaved were now free.

The day is often celebrated with parades across major cities (Picture: Getty)

Although slavery had officially been abolished two and a half years earlier, in 1863, following President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, it was not widely enforced in Texas, due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the order.

In fact, many slave owners moved to Texas after Lincoln’s Proclamation in order to continue their business.

Because Texas was the last state to have slavery abolished, 19 June – or ‘Juneteenth’ – became the official day to celebrate the emancipation of the slaves.

What does Juneteenth mean?

‘Juneteenth’ – as you may guess – is a mishmash between ‘June’ and ‘ninteenth’.

Participants in a Juneteenth event (Picture: Getty)

The day is also referred to as Juneteenth Independence Day, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day.

Is Juneteenth a holiday?

Today is state holiday or observance in 47 states and Washington DC.

The day is marked as a US holiday on Google Calendar and Apple Calendars, and was announced as a federal holiday for the first time in 2021.

How do people celebrate Juneteenth?

According to dedicated website Juneteenth.com, the day is celebrated in a range of ways and typical activities include ‘rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball.’

As of 2021, Juneteenth is a federal holiday (Picture: Getty)

Their website states: ‘Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past.’

Prayer services are also a major part of these celebrations and certain foods have become synonymous with the celebrations, such as strawberry soda-pop, barbecue food and meats such as lamb, pork and beef.


MORE :
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