day 026 of 365
December 26, 2018
Umoja, First Day & Kwanzaa
During the holiday season I look forward most to the full moon, new moon, winter solstice, and Kwanzaa Kwanzaa. Don’t get me wrong I partake in gift giving with meaningful gifts. But there’s something about Kwanzaa that overshadows Christmas. Kwanzaa was created in response to Christmas being a holiday based on commercialism and profiting off of human emotions. Kwanzaa is focused on so much more and is a holiday based on positive messages, reflection, community, culture, and history.
Kwanzaa is a seven day holiday that is tends to be celebrated by those that members of the African diaspora community in the States. This holiday was created (just like Christmas was someone else’s creation) that celebrates African American and pan-African culture and history. Kwanzaa comes from the KiSwahili translating to “first fruits”. The holiday is meant to be a celebration where people come together and give thanks for the good things in their communities and in their lives.
This seven day festival begins December 26 and ends on January 1. The 7 days celebrated are based on The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba; pronounced (En-GOO-zoh Sah-BAH). Each day has its own celebrated principle/theme as related to the Kwanzaa Holiday. Every year is supposed to have an “official” overarching theme, though I recognize it, but I don’t practice when I celebrate. I appreciate Kwanzaa because through Nguzo Saba I can also find ways to incorporate my spiritual practices and traditions for this time of year.
Today is December 26, which marks Day One of Kwanzaa. Today’s theme is Umoja (oo-MOE-jah), Unity. This principle focuses on we, as a whole, striving for and maintaining unity in the family, community, nation and in humanity. In celebrating this day I am reminded that everything is interconnected in some kind of way. Keeping this principle in mind we are gifted with the knowledge that we are our communities local and global. We have the power to do good and share positive experiences despite the negative. If we want to prosper we have to ensure that our communities are doing the same.
Today’s ritual included the lighting of the first candle (black) located in the center of the three red candles and three green ones. Burning incense and sitting at an alter to meditate, pray, and call. Partaking in libations, speak to my ancestors, and calling my orishas in honor and for guidance. I give thanks for those that came before me, for my experiences up to this point, and remain humble. I celebrate the small, but humble contributions that I have made in efforts to unite communities and foster connections between people.