Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kwanzaa - Unity

I thought about making this a Pagan Blog Post but Kwanzaa is not a Pagan holiday. In fact, it's not even religious. 

What exactly is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is a pseudo-African-American* holiday invented by Dr. Maulana Karenga based on a harvest holiday celebrated in some African countries. Kwanzaa is a static holiday; it is always held Dec 26-Jan 1. It is not a replacement for Christmas. As far as I can tell, there are no deities involved.

The holiday lasts 7 days with each day being the focus of one of 7 principles: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). The kinara or candle holder holds 7 candles: 1 black, 3 red, and 3 green. One candle is lit each day.

Each day, the head of the family says "Habari gani?" The rest of the family replies with the principle for the day.

The official Kwanzaa site explains how to celebrate. Under Preparation, the site says to not mix Kwanzaa with any other cultural celebration. Okay, I have a problem with this. First, Kwanzaa occurs right in the middle of the 13 days of Yuletide. Second, my heritage is mixed. If I knew which Native tribe and European countries my ancestors were from, I would mix that in as well. Besides, I'm American by birth which can mean anything.

Day 1 - Unity
Unity focuses on the togetherness of the family and community. I'll go a step further and stress the importance of unity of the human race.

*Normally I avoid the term African-American. I'm sure some of my ancestors were African. Some were probably White and Native as well. But because I have brown skin, somebody thought it was politically correct to term me as African-American. I was born here in America as were my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. My race should not be confused with my nationality. Whites aren't referred to as European-Americans.

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