Spirit of the Holidays…Kwanzaa and Christmas

Photo courtesy of brighthubeducation.com

Photo courtesy of brighthubeducation.com

“We have religious holidays and we have secular holidays. I see Kwanzaa as an opportunity for African-Americans to reaffirm ourselves if we choose to, a chance to rebuild and renew our focus. I see Kwanzaa as a holiday of the spirit,” said Jessica Harris, an African culinary artist.

Kwanzaa starts on Thursday, December 26, and ends on Wednesday, January 1. The term “Kwanzaa” is actually a Kiswahili word (or a Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania word) that means “first.” According to http://www.africa.upenn.edu, in 1966, Dr. Maulana Karenga brought the Kwanzaa festival to the U.S. to welcome the first harvest to the new home. He created this special festival for the African-Americans because of the Christmas practices.

For the celebration of Kwanzaa, African-Americans light seven candles that represent their seven principles. According to http://theblackcandle.com/about-kwanzaa, the candles are made out of three colors: three green, three red, and one black. Umoja stands for unity of a family or community, Ujima is the candle of responsibility, and Ujamaa represents the trait of cooperation and encouragement. Nia is for having a purpose in our lives, and Imani stands for faith in ones traditions. Kuumba is the trait of creativity of someone’s mind, and Kujichagulia represents the principle of self determination, stated the black candle.

Sadly, this happy African-American holiday is becoming unpopular. Keith Mayes, author of “Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition” said that the popularity level for Kwanzaa has leveled off. Based on his research, he says about a half-million to 2 million people in America celebrate Kwanzaa, out of about 40 million Americans said to be black by the U.S. Census, including those who many races, reported http://www.cleveland.com.



Christmas is a celebration on December 25 where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the son of God. Jesus’ birth is known as the nativity, and is set in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, according to http://www.bbc.co.uk. In the Bible, it is stated that Jesus was given birth to a woman named Mary, and was engaged to a carpenter named Joseph, but Mary gave birth to Jesus as a virgin.

According to http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/holidays/christmas.htm the word “Christmas” actually comes from the Old English wordChristes maesse, which means “Christ’s mass.”