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"I will hold Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year." - Charles Dickens.

Birthday Celebrations Net

Christmas Traditions Around the World

    Christmas in African America

    On December 26th African Americans celebrate with Kwanzaa, a holiday that originated at the time of the civil rights movement in the 1960's and is in commemoration of African heritage. Created as a ritual for harvest time and using the language Swahili, Kwanzaa lasts a week during which participants gather with family and friends to exchange gifts and to light a series of black, red and green candles which symbolize the seven basic values of the African Americans family life that is unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

    The days leading up to Kwanzaa are spent decorating the house with black, red and green paper decorations. They might also hang handmade ornaments on an evergreen Kwanzaa Bush. Part of this holiday is spent teaching children about their heritage and they might also display their artwork or find other ways to pay tribute to their past as well as their present. They put up photographs of the current generation of the family. A ceremonial table is set up, which has been set up with an ear of corn symbolizing each of the children, a carved and decorated unity cup, which is used for the toasts made each evening.

    Then for the next seven nights the family gathers to light the seven holed candleholder or Kinara. The first night of the children is asked to light the central candle the black one (this is symbolizing unity) after which they are told the meaning of the word. The next night someone lights the red one (symbolizing self-determination) and so on for the next seven nights. Each night they also drink from the unity cup which is filled with libation.

    December 31st is the night for the giving of gifts to the children these gifts might consist of a book as well as a heritage symbol such as an African artifact. The seven day celebration ends with a feast which has African American foods, and plenty of music. Once everyone has finished eating, they all rise, recommit themselves to the seven principles of Kwanzaa and bid everyone happy times ahead. The host of the party is suppose to wish that at the end of this year may we all come together in larger numbers, with greater achievement, and a higher level of human life.

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