In the years before the proclamation, it was the time after Christmas, and slaves were usually cotton “ginning,” which is the process of separating the lint from the seed. For some slaves, January was also called “Heartbreak Day” because it was the day when fathers, sons, daughters, or mothers were hired out by the master to do contract work on other plantations.
Happy Emancipation Day, Happy Independence Day for Haiti, and Happy New Year! God bless America. Amen.
Sources: Christmas-celebrations.org, Wikipedia, Tombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planter : With the Journal of Thomas B. Chaplin (1822-1890)