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Lighting the Kinara - Kwanzaa Traditions

12/18/2011 14:02

Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language Kiswahili, has gained tremendous acceptance since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa is a special time of the year, one that celebrates African culture, heritage, and traditions. It's a time to think of family, friends, neighbors, and community. At the center of the holiday ritual is the kinara, which holds the seven candles – 3 red for the struggle, 3 green for hope and the future, and the black candle in the middle for unity. Starting on December 26 – January 1st, a candle is lit on a kinara to symbolize the principal of the day. The seven principals are: 

* Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race. 

* Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves. 

* Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together. 

* Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together. 

* Nia (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

 * Kuumba (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

 * Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. Traditionally, on the final eve of December 31st, most families get together and celebrate with the Kwanzaa feast or Karamu. It is a very special event, as it is the one Kwanzaa event that brings families closer to their African roots. The ceremony is filled with drumming and other music selections as well as readings from the African Pledge. Do you celebrate Kwanzaa? Visit our site for all of your celebration needs. You can click here to go directly to our Kwanzaa section. Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri! (Happy Kwanzaa!)