New Year’s Day hasn’t always been a cause for celebration for everyone in history.
TikToker @jordxn.simone does a series of “Black History Fast Facts” every Black History Month. Every day in February, she shares a little-known fact from black history. In one segment, she explained how slaves’ relationship with the New Year was very different from that of the rest of the population.
“For many slaves, New Year’s Day was actually called ‘Heartbreak Day,'” Jordan said. “During the winter months between harvest seasons, slavers needed extra cash, and it was common to rent or sell their ‘property’ altogether.”
The prewar South incorporated Heartbreak Day or Hiring Day into its economy. Most debts were collected and settled that day and new contracts started in January.
This meant that enslaved families looked forward to New Year’s Eve, fearing that their loved ones would be “sold” at auction so the slaveholders could pay their debts.
People had no idea who would be taken from them or if they themselves would be taken away. Such family separations could last for years or a lifetime. Anyone who resisted was beaten and imprisoned until they promised not to run away.
“This amount of loss and grief has earned the New Year the title ‘Heartbreak Day,'” she explained.
People were grateful for the quick fact about Jordan’s black history.
“Learned more from you here on TikTok than I ever did in all of my training,” someone wrote.
“I had absolutely no idea,” another commented.
“I will never think of New Years the same way again,” one person said.
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