The Celebration of Pinkster in New York State

by May 20, 2023Blog0 comments

Written by guest author, Chief Baba Neil Clarke

The Pinkster Festival is a very important 350-year-old, but little known, Africanized celebration which took place annually in the Hudson River Valley region, including the N.Y.C. area for almost two hundred years.  Pinkster is Dutch for the Christian holiday of Pentecost, the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus prompting them to “speak-in-tongues” or different languages and to go forth spreading their joyous message. It is considered to be the beginning of the formal Christian church. Pentecost/Pinkster occurs annually fifty days after Easter according to the Christian calendar.

These observations began in North America with the original Dutch settlers, who engaged in the enslavement of African people beginning as early as 1626. The Pinkster festival was a time when the Dutch would go to church to observe the Pinkster holiday. Their enslaved Africans were commonly given “time off” when they could engage in normally uncustomary activities. The opportunity was taken by these Africans to freely celebrate with their own music, dance and other cultural expressions of their African heritage. These expressions were infectious and inclusive.

The Pinkster Festival celebrations evolved into what is probably the oldest openly African holiday celebration in America. They were very popular for nearly two centuries,  being outlawed in 1811 and finally disappearing around 1850.

Join us as we Observe, Rejuvenate and Celebrate!

The 2023 Pinkster Celebration Calendar includes the following events:

1.) Sat. 5/6 – Van Cortlandt House Museum, 6036 Broadway, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, NY 10471 (12-4pm)

2.) 5/13 – Wycofff House (Bklyn) – Musicians only

3.) Sat. 5/20 – Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site – (10AM – 5PM). 29 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, New York 10701

4.) Sun. 5/21 – Lefferts Historic House – (1 – 6 PM). 452 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225.

5.) Sat. 6/3 – Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site – (11AM–4PM). 32 Catherine St, Albany, NY 12202 .

6.) Sun. 6/4 – Senate House State Historic Site – (12 – 5PM). 296 Fair St, Kingston, NY 12401.

7.) Sat. 6/10 – Weeksville Heritage Center – (12 – 5PM). 158 Buffalo Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213.

For further information contact Chief Baba Neil Clarke: