Another festival of Light to illuminate the darkness and warm the heart of Winter: KWANZAA
The word Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili word meaning “first” or “first fruits of the harvest.”
Kwanzaa is an African-American 7-day festival celebrated mainly in the U.S. for the week between 26th December and 1st January each year. The festival itself is neither religious nor political. That being said, increasingly many faith-based communities throughout the country are celebrating Kwanzaa as part of their winter holiday rituals to teach tolerance, foster diversity and practice inclusion. I honor this new tradition reflective of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa. Namaste!
“The holiday was established in 1966 to help African Americans remember and celebrate their heritage. The word “Kwanzaa” comes from the Swahili language and means “first fruits”. Each day of the seven days is dedicated to one of “The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa”, which are:
umoja – to maintain unity in the family and community
kujichagulia – self-determination, to be responsible and speak for oneself
ujima – collective work and responsibility, to build and maintain a community together
ujamaa – economic cooperation, to help and profit one another
nia – purpose, to build and develop the community for the benefit of the people
kuumba – creativity, to do everything possible to leave the community more beautiful and beneficial for future generations
imani – faith, to believe in parents, elders, teachers and leaders
A candle is lit each day on the special candlestick, the “kimara”, to represent these principles. The kimara is placed on a mkeka, a traditional straw mat, and one ear of corn is also placed on the mat for each child in the family. A fruit basket, called a “mazao”, is also displayed, along with a special “unity” cup, out of which everyone drinks. Families decorate their homes with traditional African crafts. The colors red, green and black – representing the African flag – are used. Gifts, known as “zawadi”, are given on the last day of Kwanzaa.” *http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/kwanzaa
Do you have Kwanzaa traditions or festival dish recipes to share?
Other Kwanzaa Resources:
The Official Kwanzaa Website: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml