7 ways to celebrate Juneteenth 

Juneteenth has long been celebrated within Black communities across America, but now, even more have the chance to enjoy the day. 

Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, or Jubilee Day, has long been commemorated on June 19 in Black communities throughout the country in a variety of ways, including parades, rodeos, and barbecues. Since President Joe Biden officially made the day a federal holiday two years ago, new traditions have formed. 

From massive festivals and block parties to intimate cookouts with red drinks, there are many ways to spend the day. If you’re new to commemorating Juneteenth, you may be wondering how to celebrate. Do you just relax at home? Try and check out a parade? Should we start hosting annual cookouts this weekend? The possibilities are endless. 

How to celebrate Juneteenth, Juneteenth 2023, Black Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, Black Independence Day, Jubilee Day, theGrio.com
People attend a Juneteenth celebration in Fort Greene Park on June 19, 2022, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Whether this is your first year celebrating or you’ve been commemorating Juneteenth for years, here are seven ways to create new traditions around the historic day.  

Give Texas its due

Juneteenth specifically commemorates when the last region in the country, which happened to be Texas, finally learned President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves two years earlier. Since then, the day has been a cause for major celebration in the state. If you can’t physically get to a celebration in Texas, you can always pay tribute virtually by throwing on some Beyoncé or Megan Thee Stallion, learning more about the state’s history with the day, watching some Black westerns — and, of course, indulging in some quality barbecue. 

Be social

If you and yours have Juneteenth off, host a cookout, attend a street fair, or a block party — in short, engage with your community! The day commemorates one of history’s worst moments of poor communication and underscores how isolated Black people once were from one another in this country. Rebel against that legacy by joining with the ones you love — or making new friends. (Bonus idea: Do your best to sip on something red; the color has come to hold major significance in Juneteenth celebrations.) 

Host a family or ‘framily’ reunion

It may be too late to plan this year, but with more and more individuals receiving the day off from work, and school out for the summer, the long Juneteenth weekend could become the perfect time of year to host a Black family — or “framily” — reunion. Get together in a place your folks have roots or link up somewhere new for all and enjoy the significance of being able to hold your kin close.      

Shop Black-owned businesses

It didn’t take corporate America long at all to embrace Juneteenth. Instead of supporting the growing monetization of the holiday, spend your money with Black businesses and give back to the Black community in a tangible way. 

Eat well!

It could be because Juneteenth has its roots in Texas, but Juneteenth is a major food holiday. If you do nothing else, eat well on Juneteenth. Recipes for Texas barbecue and Black Southern standards abound. Establishing and cooking a particular menu each year sounds like the perfect way to have a personal celebration. 

Focus on yourself

There is perhaps no better way to honor our ancestors and those who were enslaved than to enjoy the freedom to do nothing at all. Turn off your alarm, stay in your pajamas all day, catch up on your favorite Black films and TV shows, and enjoy some quality R&R before the summer really kicks off in less than a week. Use it as a day for personal maintenance, to relax, and truly focus on yourself and your well-being.  

Spend the day in reflection

Juneteenth may be a celebration of Black liberation from slavery in this country, but given its legacy, the day can understandably also weigh heavily on the hearts of some. If you find yourself in that category, embrace it. Spend the day in reflection. Check out virtual Juneteenth programs, such as theGrio’s “Freedom Forward: Juneteenth Special” on Monday, June 19, at 2 p.m. on theGrio.com and across all social media channels, and “Byron Allen Presents the Juneteenth Special” later this month on Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, at 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m. on theGrio’s cable network and fast channels. Read up on the day’s history, journal through your emotions, reach out to friends and family, pray, or connect with the spirit how you see fit — and of course, acknowledge and honor the strength and sacrifices of our ancestors.

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