Growing up Southern Baptist, Christmas was all I knew! I was taught that Jesus was the reason for the season but at the same time our Pastor shared information that explained that Jesus's birthday was not in the winter! I believe this information began the series of questions that bubbled up in my mind.
"Mary was traveling the long distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem which was about 70 miles. Winter would likely be an especially difficult time for a pregnant Mary to travel such a long distance. The world of Mary and Joseph was a difficult and dangerous place, one whose harsh conditions were not fully chronicled in the Gospel accounts of their travails. Writers of the gospels of Matthew and Luke “are so laconic about the [Nativity] event because they assume the reader would know what it was like,” said James F. Strange, a New Testament and biblical archaeology professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa"- https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/articles/when-was-jesus-really-born.aspx
This made total sense, but if this was true why did the church still celebrate Christmas? Becoming an adult and having children of my own, I realized that it was very important to have traditions and beliefs that made sense to me. I looked and thought up ways to help them understand that Christmas is not all about gifts and materialism. I thought to get clear ornaments and for 25 days place a note inside that stated how each of us helped someone that day, that never happened lol. Though it was and still is a good idea, the children were too young to write!
The materialism is a hard one to break because of supportive grandparents lol. They always shower them with gifts and get on me for not putting up a Christmas tree. We also have the tradition of traveling to my Grandmother's house every Christmas so I had to find a way to incorporate Kwanzaa into our holiday season. Last year, 2019, we did have the amazing opportunity to attend a Kwanzaa event in Delray Beach Florida hosted by The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum. With my grandma, and mom in tow, I knew we would be in for a great cultural experience! The organization even allowed me to sell some of my products during the event! The event consisted of; children's crafts and planting, outdoor Kwanzaa discussion and Kwanzaa Ceremony and Feast! The children were even featured in the Palm Beach Post Newspaper! We are excited to return this year!
I am truly thankful for non profit organizations like these that keep our culture alive!
Instead of toys that the children may think are cool for only a week, I would rather save that money for their future, purchase stocks for them or invest in their future in different ways. I believe that becoming an entrepreneur also changed my thought process about finances as a whole!
What is Kwanzaa?
"Kwanzaa is an African American and pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies. Kwanzaa, a seven-day cultural festival, begins December 26 and ends January 1. It joins communitarian values and practices of Continental African and African American culture."- https://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/img/index/Kwanzaa--ABriefDescription2016.jpg
Being a researcher at heart, I began to dig. I had heard of Kwanzaa but never knew anyone that celebrated it. I am African American, if this holiday was created to celebrate our culture, why wasn't my family celebrating it? I fell in love with the principles (or Nguzo Saba)!
The Nguzo Saba were right up my alley! These are the things we should celebrate! These are the things that we should teach our children so that they can grow up with deep understanding of themselves and purpose! The want to celebrate this holiday and to also learn more helped me stumble upon the Kwanzaa event at the Spady Museum! I truly thank my family for coming along as well!
Christmas will always be a tradition that my children celebrate because of their grandparents, which is fine, but I do also want to create memorable Kwanzaa traditions as well! Next year I will plan to incorporate the Kwanzaa symbols into our celebration! These include; Mazao of the crops, Mkeka or the mat, Kinara or the candle holder, Muhindi or the corn, Kikombe cha Umoja or the unity cup, Mishumaa Saba or the seven candles Zawadi or the gifts and Bendera or the flag! (pictured below)
If this holiday speaks to you, even if you are not African American, give it a try!
Heri za Kwanzaa, Happy Kwanzaa!