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Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory by Robert E. May (review)

Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory by Robert E. May (review) angela m. riotto received her Ph.D. from the University of Akron in 2018. Her research focuses on American Civil War prisoners of war and their memories of captivity. She currently works as a historian with Army University Press’s Films Team at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory. By Robert E. May. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019. Pp. 352. Cloth, $34.95; paper, $27.95.) One of the many stories white southerners liked to tell themselves about slavery—and that some still tell themselves—was that Christmas was the one time of year beloved by all, especially enslaved black Americans. Enslaved people, white southerners claimed, were given a full week off and feted with pot roast, biscuits, rum, and whiskey. Field-workers were invited into the “Big House,” showered with gifts, and given permission to travel to nearby plantations. Writing in 1878, the former South Carolina slave owner Celina E. Means described enslaved people dancing to “the sound of the fiddle and the shouts of laughter” during Christmastime as proof of slavery’s decency—as evidence of the “real condition” of enslaved people (202; italics in original). It is this myth that Robert E. May thoroughly debunks in Yuletide in Dixie, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of the Civil War Era University of North Carolina Press

Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory by Robert E. May (review)

The Journal of the Civil War Era , Volume 11 (1) – Feb 24, 2021

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright @ The University of North Carolina Press
ISSN
2159-9807

Abstract

angela m. riotto received her Ph.D. from the University of Akron in 2018. Her research focuses on American Civil War prisoners of war and their memories of captivity. She currently works as a historian with Army University Press’s Films Team at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory. By Robert E. May. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019. Pp. 352. Cloth, $34.95; paper, $27.95.) One of the many stories white southerners liked to tell themselves about slavery—and that some still tell themselves—was that Christmas was the one time of year beloved by all, especially enslaved black Americans. Enslaved people, white southerners claimed, were given a full week off and feted with pot roast, biscuits, rum, and whiskey. Field-workers were invited into the “Big House,” showered with gifts, and given permission to travel to nearby plantations. Writing in 1878, the former South Carolina slave owner Celina E. Means described enslaved people dancing to “the sound of the fiddle and the shouts of laughter” during Christmastime as proof of slavery’s decency—as evidence of the “real condition” of enslaved people (202; italics in original). It is this myth that Robert E. May thoroughly debunks in Yuletide in Dixie,

Journal

The Journal of the Civil War EraUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Feb 24, 2021

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