Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Informational: Kwanzaa By Owen M.

After all of the Hanukkah dradels have been spun, and all of the Christmas carols sung, the excitement and joy of the holiday season begin to come to an end. But for kids like Dylan J., the festivities and celebrations of Kwanzaa have just begun.
Kwanzaa was founded by Maulana Karenga. It begins on the 26th of December, and ends on the 1st of January.  Some of the traditions that take place over the seven-day holiday period include gift exchanging, the lighting of the Kinara candles, special meals, and communal reflection. A common misconception about Kwanzaa is that it’s a religious holiday. Kwanzaa is actually celebrated for the purpose of remembering the African-American culture and it’s values. Each day comes with a reflection topic; the first day is unity, the second is self-determination, the third is collective work and responsibility, the fourth is cooperative economics, the fifth is purpose, the sixth is creativity, and the seventh is faith. Along with these themes, a candle is lit. According to Dylan there are three green candles, three red candles, and one black candle. The three green candles represent the land that the African-Americans live on, the red candles represent the hardships undergone in the past, and the black candle represents the African-American community as a whole...
Dylan said that he’s been celebrating Kwanzaa since first grade, and described the holiday as something that’s special to him because it brings his family together and helps him remember stable core values. He said, “Kwanzaa isn’t really about any kind of holiday glamour. It’s more about being proud of who you are, and celebrating something that is meaningful to you.”

Kwanzaa with Dylan’s family might include a family dinner, a gift exchange, or just spending time together. Maybe an Ethiopian dish called Doro Wat (pancake-like bread with meat on top) will be served. I asked Dylan about the kinds of gifts he gives or receives and he said, “Last year I got a watch. But a more meaningful gift is that I’m cared about, and that I have a family. One year I made my parents a card.” Dylan thinks that Kwanzaa is an important tradition for him, and he will probably keep celebrating it every year.

An interesting fact: Dylan’s grandmother used to hang out with Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa!

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