Historic Huguenot Street’s Spring Celebration Pinkster Festival will include a mix of the traditional Dutch and African customs that made this event so popular in early America.
The celebration of Pinkster was brought to what would become the Northeastern United States by Dutch colonists in the 17th century. Pinkster was a religious holiday celebrated on the seventh Sunday after Easter (Pentecost), and was typically recognized by a day of rest, church services, and important religious ceremonies such as baptisms and confirmations. For the Africans enslaved by these Dutch settlers, this day also became a day of rest and celebration for them.
For the Africans in America, Pinkster reached its peak of popularity between 1790-1810. By this time, the celebration had become primarily African in culture and tradition. Both free and enslaved individuals would travel long distances to attend Pinkster festivals, where they would camp for many days and engage in sports, drinking, music and dance, and other activities that reflected their West African roots, including the election of a Pinkster King and council. This tradition replicated the ceremonies that took place in the prosperous kingdoms of Africa prior to the establishment of the slave trade.
Historic Huguenot Street’s Spring Celebration Pinkster Festival will highlight the ways in which the free and enslaved Africans in New York and Ulster County transformed this traditionally Christian holiday into a festival that evoked and embraced their West African roots.
Visitors can expect to experience West African inspired cuisine, traditional African drumming and dance, as well as African games, crafts, and more.