For most of us Christmas is our special time of year. It is the time of snow, twinkling light, festive celebrations and hopefully a span of days that families are able to remember. There are dozens of ways Christians celebrate this day. Each area of the country will have little differences in what they may serve for Christmas dinner, when that is served, or even when the packages are open.
Christmas is so varied that I remember as a small child being continually confused between its meaning–there was Santa Claus, Jesus and St. Nick. When I went to church I thought I understood, but then in stores and in story books there were these other characters. My Mother tried her best to explain the differences in the meaning of Christmas, yet that understanding didn’t come until much later in my childhood.
Tonight Hannukah begins at sundown. In four short days Christmas will arrive. A busy time of year for most people and a time that because of being busy we may forget to tell the people that we are close to how important they are to us. It is a time of year that is to be filled with the warmth from our heart and share that warmth with others.
Hannukah also symbolises the light of religious, national and cultural freedom won by the Maccabee family for the Jewish people. If the Jews had been defeated at this time and their monotheistic religion obliterated, Christianity would never have been born, a very important point to remember when comparisons are made.
Kwanza, which is not a religious time, begins a week long celebration on December 26 and honors the values of ancient African cultures. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase ‘matunda ya kwanza’, meaning “first fruits”. The additional “a” was added to “Kwanza” so that the word would have seven letters, one for each of the Seven Principles, or Nguzu Saba, of Blackness. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles. In order, they are:
* Umoja (Unity),
* Kujichagulia (Self-determination),
* Ujima (Collective work and responsibility),
* Ujamaa (Cooperative economics),
* Nia (Purpose),
* Kuumba (Creativity), and
* Imani (Faith).
Regardless which belief we have, individually the choice is special to us and our families. If our neighbors celebration is different than ours ask them to tell you about theirs. I am sure they are as curious of yours and you are of their festivities. Possibly we all should remember that saying Merry Christmas isn’t enough and that we need to include other seasonal greeting “Be Happy, Be Merry, May you enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza” or maybe we need to decide which individual celebratory greeting should be used——
May you enjoy Kwanza