By: Amairani Chacon
December is a month that is filled with holiday cheer with many traditions and cultures on the rise. Though, the most popular holiday in December is Christmas, hence the nationwide excitement for the holiday, many different cultures and religions participate in different celebrations through December. One holiday in particular happens to be Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture and practices. The originator of this holiday is American, Maluana Karenga, who resided in California at the time Kwanzaa was first introduced. Though its original place of creation was California, it soon spread throughout the entire nation and world. The holiday itself was first celebrated in 1966. “the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning ‘first fruits of the harvest’”(Wikipedia). Kwanzaa is also spelled with and extra “a” to represent seven symbolic letters, the number seven and its purpose shows many times throughout the traditions of this holiday.
Besides the rich history and origin of Kwanzaa, there is a unique way this holiday is celebrated. The people who participate in Kwanzaa celebrate from December 26 to January 1. There are seven days of Kwanzaa for seven principles. These include: Umoja (unity), Kujichahuila (self-determination), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). Each principle is celebrated and recognized by those who celebrate, a candle is lit by a child each day out of the week to celebrate the day, holiday, and the principle. As there are principles, there are also seven symbols of Kwanzaa that include: The seven symbols include: Mazao (the crops), Mkeka (place mat), Vibunzi (ear of corn), Mishumaa Saba (the seven candles), Kinara (candleholder), Kikombe Cha Umoja (the unity cup), and Zawadi (gifts). Each symbol has its own significance, take Vibunzi (the ear of corn) for example. The stalk of corn symbolizes fertility and new hope to the family. Each ear of corn represents a child in the family.
Kwanzaa is a very unique celebration that has representation of African art and novelties inside of homes. Celebrations often include singing and dancing, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. The traditional mean is an African Feast, also known as Karamu, and it is held on the 31 of December. Wearing of traditional clothing also takes play to truly honor the history and traditions of the culture.
All around, December is a very outstanding month that holds many representations of different holidays, cultures, practices and more! Happy Holidays!