• Juneteenth •
jun-teenth • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, proper
Meaning: Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. This African-American celebration remembers the day, June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached slaves in Galveston, Texas—two and a half years after it was issued.
Notes: Early celebrations evolved into political rallies and later into formal celebrations planned far in advance by Juneteenth committees. June 19, 1865 was a Monday but now Juneteenth is often celebrated on the weekend nearest June 19th. In early years these celebrations were commonly relegated by law to the outskirts of towns. However, many Juneteenth organizations eventually purchased tracts of land inside towns for the express purpose of holding the celebration. Many of them were named 'Emancipation Park' and some remain today.
In Play: In 2005 celebrations were held in more cities across the US than ever before, marking the 140th anniversary of this special day. For details of celebrations in your area this year, visit the Juneteenth website at www.juneteenth.com.
Word History: Today's Good Word is a blend of June and nineteenth that sounds rather odd, since -teen-th are suffixes that usually attach to numbers (teen is a variant of ten). June was taken from the calendar of the Romans, who named the month after their goddess, Juno, the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of the moon, marriage, and childbirth. Juno's name comes from the same root as the Latinate words, junior, juvenile, and our own Germanic versions, English young, German and Dutch jung "young", and Swedish ung "young". (Let us all join with Larry Brady, who originally suggested today's Good Word, in celebrating this unique US holiday and the freedom from repression it symbolizes.)
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