As I lit the first candle on my Kinara some hours ago and posted it to social media, I realized that most folks probably have no idea what Kwanzaa is, or what it's about. I don't celebrate in the most traditional of ways, but I thought I'd share my Kwanzaa plans with you anyway, to hopefully inspire you to take part in the celebrations next year!
First, a little background:
Kwanzaa isn't an African holiday - it's an Afro-American holiday, created by Black Power activist Maulana Karenga in 1966. He was interested in black folk, like myself, having something traditional to celebrate outside of the European traditions during this time of year. It begins each year on December 26th, and ends on January 1st, with each day having a guiding principle, drawn from the Nguzo Saba. On the first night of Kwanzaa, the middle, black candle is lit, representing the light of members of the African diaspora living across the country, and around the world today. Each night, one additional candle is lit, from left to right. The red candles represent the pain and suffering of black people, while the green candles represent the freedom and prosperity our people will see in the future.
Traditionally, food, poems and gifts are shared to correspond with each of the guiding principles. Being the musician I am (and overnight worker), I choose to celebrate the Nguzo Saba of each night with a corresponding song that helps me think about what each of those principles mean to me. If you'd like to celebrate along with me, musically, you can click on the images of the artists below to listen to each of the tunes I chose for this year (some performances include a little language, FYI).
For more information on Kwanzaa and each of the guiding principles, I encourage you to visit the official Kwanzaa website. I hope you have a very Joyous Kwanzaa!