Monday, December 27, 2010
Today is the beginning of Kwanzaa, the seven-day celebration of the humanity of all people and their achievements, which begins the day after Christmas.
The holiday dates back to a California professor and black residents of Los Angeles in 1966 and is based on African principles and history.
“Kwanzaa” is the Swahili word for “first fruits of the harvest.”
One of the symbols of Kwanzaa is the kinara, or holder, with one black candle flanked by three red and three green candles. The candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa – family unity, self-determination, working together, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. During Kwanzaa one candle is lit each day of the weeklong celebration.
On the final day there is a community feast, or karamu, sort of like a pot luck supper. Food most popular are dishes from the African diaspora like collard greens, corn bread, rice and peanut butter stew. Yassa, a spicy marinated chicken in onion sauce, is a popular dish from Senegal. Lamb, pork of fish can be substituted for the chicken.
The principles of Kwanzaa are noteworthy ones we all should keep before us as inspiration for the New Year.