This is the Kwanzaa season, December 26 thru January 1.
Kwanzaa is a Swahili word that means ‘first fruits’. It is a joyous occasion for family that includes celebration, reflection and a call to follow a set of ethics to sustain and strengthen the community. Kwanzaa is a fairly new holiday created by an African-American professor for African-Americans and Africans in diaspora. It is based on African culture and their First Harvest or First Fruits celebrations and combines the traditions of many African cultures including the Ashanti and Zulu tribes. The language is Swahili, the set of ethics are called The Nguzo Saba, also referred to as the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa.
A candle is lit each night and the principle for the day is introduced and discussed. The children in the family are encouraged to lite the candle and explain the principle. The middle candle, black, is lit on the first day of Kwanzaa. The following evenings the candles are lit beginning with the farthest left candle (red), then farthest right candle (green) alternating nightly. All members give an example or explain the principle and at the end of the evening the youngest to the eldest can state and discus the principle for the day.
In many African cultures libation or wine is poured in reverence to the deceased. Because the pouring of Libation is a symbol of respect for the deceased and the elders, many families have one cup on the Kwanza table, the Kikombe cha Umoja, (The Unity Cup) or Umoja Cup. It may be filled with a wine or juice. In the Kwanzaa celebration, each member drink from the cup or each drink together from their own cup and the Umoja Cup remain untouched as it represent the elders or deceased. The family drinking together symbolize unity and the ritual is very similar to communion. The Umoja Cup (Unity Cup) ceremony is done on the 6th day of Kwanzaa.
December 26 is Umoja (oo -MO- jah), Unity: To strive for and maintain unity in our community, our family and our nation. The middle candle, black, is lit.
December 27 is Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self Determination: To define and name ourselves, create and speak for ourselves. A red candle is lit.
December 28 is Ujima (oo-Gee-mah) Collective work and responsibility: to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together. A green candle is lit.
December 29 is Ujamaa (oo- JAH-ma) Cooperative economics: to build our own stores, shops and businesses and to profit from them together. A red candle is lit.
December 30 is Nia (nee-yah) Purpose: To make our vocation the building and developing of our community. A green candle is lit.
December 31 is Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity: Do what you can in the way that you can to make this earth more beautiful and beneficial to others.
On this day, Kuumba, original poetry is read, plays are performed, music is made, songs are sung and there is a general exchange and display of creativity. This is the day of gift giving or presenting members with something you have created. Maybe you sing a song you wrote or you baked a lemon meringue pie or created a cute and useful gift for the ladies. Whatever manner you decide to display your creativity it is done on this sixth day of Kwanzaa. This is also the day the family drink from the Unity Cup to symbolize their unity.
January 1 is Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith: Believe in your people.
This is the day that I preach/teach the importance of having faith in the supreme being, in God, in Jesus Christ, in Yahweh or the Lord and creator. I always advice and teach the importance of positive vibrations and how to envelope yourself with positivity or “light”. This is accomplished by surrounding yourself with people who are worthy of your faith, people who are righteous, trustworthy, and have integrity. To attract positive energy to yourself think positive thoughts, speak positive words, avoid negative people and negative conversation. Get rid of relations that bring more pain/stress than joy and you will enjoy peace.
On this last day of Kwanzaa and the first day of the year all seven candles are lit for the last time. Begin lighting with the middle black candle (Unity) and lite the far left red, then far right green, then next left red, etc. Each principle will be reviewed as the candle is lit. The family will drink from the unity cup then extinguish the lights. From time to time during the year the Nguzo Saba or 7 Principles will be repeated or reviewed as the need arise.
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Coming: The healing secret embedded in the Kwanzaa celebration