Commemorating the Holidays, the Gullah Geechee Method


My preferred youth vacation memories are filled with big events, laughter, and lots of, lots of overlapping voices This holiday, to fill that space, I have actually chosen to be much more purposeful about how I commemorate, embellish, and protect customs.

Vacation customs in my household have actually constantly focused around my Gullah heritage. Maintaining our Gullah Geechee culture– abundant in West African impacts on whatever from food, farming, and fishing customs to beliefs and practices– has actually constantly been a crucial part of our heritage, with customizeds given through generations of household.

As a Lowcountry native, for me among those worths is a strong connection with land and nature. When I was maturing, my grandpa had a hog farm, and today, my daddy grows veggies on the very same household land, which has actually supported our household in numerous methods, supplying nutrition and pleasure. This connection with the land, in addition to the temperate winter seasons we enjoy in South Carolina, suggested outside events were the standard. They were likewise frequently needed due to the size of my big household. I could not think of things any other method.


Today, the Gullah Geechee individuals mostly reside in Georgia and South Carolina, the Sea Islands of the American South, however our existence here goes back to the 18th century, when the land throughout these states was changed into rice fields by our forefathers, who originated from theRice Coast in Africa These farmers brought over their growing and watering experience, making rice farming a feasible, important market in America. After emancipation, these African farmers, and specifically the females, had the ability to continue to grow and cultivate the rice for their households.

Image by Chantilly Lace Photography

Today, the Gullah diet plan is still based greatly on rice, and no vacation meal is ever total without it. In many parts of the South, collard greens and cornbread is a staple of a vacation meal, however in the Lowcountry, I matured eating collard greens with rice. The very best vacations were constantly when Papa grew his own collard greens on our household land and scheduled the very best batch for us, following the very first frost.

With rice as a crucial component, vacation meals that routinely make a look are oyster perloo, red rice with sausage, and sautéed shrimp and rice. Other meals display foods from the seaside location, consisting of fresh fish and shellfish, video game, and grits. Black longshoremen have a long history, from well prior to the Civil War, when Black males were permitted to take tasks on the docks and wharves. My own household has a history of being longshoremen and dealing with the water, and fishing and crabbing are still the number of of our individuals feed and support their households– and produce memories over the water.

Maturing, I enjoyed my household cook Lowcountry favorites, with all the smells, sights, and sounds that made the vacations so unique. There is absolutely nothing rather like sweet potato bread pudding at Thanksgiving. Or hummingbird cake and homemade biscuits for Christmas. I have numerous memories of meals being prepared in my granny’s and great-aunt’s cooking areas, where I would attempt to slip a peek into the kitchen area, although the principle was to avoid of the space while the females were cooking. And making journeys to my Auntie Shug’s house in Berkeley County, South Carolina, and getting her unique okra soup and sweet potato pie that she constantly had readily available for her preferred great-nieces and nephews to feast on.


With kids of my own now, I have actually handled the function, formerly presumed by my seniors, of handing down a few of these customs, like showcasing our cultural experiences as a part of my vacation decors. I enjoy including aspects of sweetgrass baskets, for example– an ancient craft with direct roots in standard basketmaking in Africa– to my house decoration, whether that suggests showing treasure pieces or discovering representations in stationery or art collections, even in the Christmas wreaths I have this year.

Handcrafted crafts and art have actually constantly been a crucial element of Gullah culture. They do not simply carry out the function of maintaining Gullah history; they’re likewise an available location for those outside the neighborhood to engage with the culture. I select to gather Gullah art, books, and stationery as a method to protect my heritage and to have treasures to hand down to my kids as they make their own customs into the adult years.

I enjoy bringing the color indigo into my vacation decoration, blending it with various patterns: orange or pink for Thanksgiving or plaids for Christmas. Indigo was a substantial money crop on the Sea Islands and stays a staple for decoration in the area, all of which traces its roots to the Gullah neighborhood. Indigo is likewise essential to me personally since my daddy, much like lots of other Gullah males and females, signed up with the Navy. Military service has an abundant tradition in the Gullah neighborhood, beginning all the method from Congressman Robert Smalls up until today, with Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs being a staple at South Carolina State University. I have fond memories of seeing my daddy and his fellow cousins who signed up with the Navy linking over leaving the Lowcountry, however constantly returning house for the vacations, their households, and the food.

Image by Chantilly Lace Photography

The vacations might look really various this year, however that does not imply we can’t “collect” with family and friends. When I was maturing, the background was constantly our household home, with food grown on our farms, and most notably with our seniors and the next generations present to discover methods to keep the customs alive. This year, innovation will play the medium, however we will still discover methods to keep customs alive. At my own house, we will be rewatching the vacation special of Gullah Gullah Island, my preferred youth program. And like every year prior to it, there will be excellent food, even if it suggests simply dropping it off on the decks of household or pleading a few of my aunties to share their secret chicken bog or crab and grits dishes to make together– even as we remain apart.

What is a household vacation custom you love? Inform us in the remarks listed below.



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