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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A D-Xirable Holiday Season! Kwanzaa! Part 1

The last holiday but definitely not the least, is Kwanzaa. Sorry, Kwanzaa's the longest one. There's a lot to it!

What's Kwanzaa and why is it celebrated?

Kwanzaa is a holiday honoring the culture and traditions of people of African origin. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in Swahili. It starts on December 26th. Kwanzaa is celebrated by people from a range of African countries and their descendants and it was inspired by the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. More than 20 million people celebrate in the United States, Canada, England, the Carribean and Africa.

Kwanzaa consists of a week of celebrations, which ends with a feast and the exchange of gifts. During the celebrations, candles are lit and libations are poured. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. A libation is the name given to a ritual pouring of a drink as an offering to a god. During Kwanzaa, a wooden unity cup is used to pour the libations. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.

A Kwanzaa ceremony often also includes performance of music and drumming, a reflection on the Pan-African colors of red, green and black and a discussion of some aspect of African history. Women often wear brightly colored traditional clothing.

Many Christian African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas.

Kwanzaa Principles and Symbols:

Seven Principles

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.

Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah)To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The Seven Principles

Kwanzaa to be continued...

Love always,
LaTasha B.
x0x0x0x

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