A Sista’s Guide To Celebrating Kwanzaa

Created as a way for African-Americans to celebrate their heritage and reflect on African cultural values, Kwanzaa has seven principles which celebrated for seven days from December 26 – 31. These principles are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith). Celebrated all over the world, Kwanza is coming to an end.  But, there is still time to observe and benefit from this reflective holiday, even if you’re not an annual adherent.

Here’s how:

  1. Participate in your local Kwanzaa celebration – Many cities have Kwanzaa celebrations. Many of these celebrations take place during the last days of Kwanzaa or on New Year’s Day.  Google the cities around you to find a Kwanzaa celebration to join.
  2. Reach out to a few girlfriends and organize a “salon” to discuss and reflect on Kwanzaa principles. Kwanzaa was started in 1966 during the civil rights era. This was also when African countries were becoming independent from colonial rule and Marxism hadn’t been debunked by the fall of the Iron Curtain.  Discuss how Kwanzaa principles can be put into practice in today’s context.  Principles such as unity, self-determination and cooperative economics seem a lot more profound and take on a whole other meaning in the era of Trump.  How do friends close to you think we can put such principles in place?

    Happy Kwanzaa 6th Principle (Creativity / Kuumba)
  3. Make do with the candles, time and food you have.  Each year I vow to order a $77 Kinara and red, green and black candles way in advance of Kwanzaa. But, I never do. I also know from experience you just can’t  run out to Target and buy a Kinara or black and green candles.  (Red candles are usually easy to find.) You have to order these things from special sites or Amazon.  Making wonderful African or soul food for 7 days can take time and money you may not have. Not to mention the special mat, unity cup or ears of corn for Kwanzaa ceremonies. Don’t feel like to have to skip out on Kwanzaa because you don’t have all the right accoutrement, time or food. Make do with what you have and celebrate how you can.  Ok – I confess that this has been my approach, and I get a lot of Kwanzaa even though I’m far from a perfect observer.
  4. Take the principles of Kwanzaa to heart and put them into action on a daily basis, instead of viewing the observance as a seven-day event. Kwanzaa isn’t a religious or political event. But, for many it’s a life style.  Start 2019 by taking the principles of Kwanzaa to heart and living them out on a daily basis. As one young Indianapolis woman explained: “It’s about knowing who you are and what your worth is. No matter what you do for a living, if you don’t have these principles, you will fall short.”

These are just a few of many ideas out there on how to celebrate Kwanzaa. SuzyKnew! hopes you don’t let the holiday slip by without reflecting on a principle or two and determining how you will put them into action.

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Photo courtesy: Blogging Black Miami

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