One of the most profound experiences we can have in this lifetime is to celebrate culture. Being knowledgable in a variety of cultural traditions is powerful, whether it be your own or one that is unfamiliar to you. There is always an opportunity to grow and learn from the wisdom of the world, especially during the holiday season. A powerful part of this is Kwanzaa, and its teachings are truly sacred regarding family, community, and culture.
Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966 and honors African culture. It began during this time as a part of the black nationalist movement, a time created to connect African Americans to their roots, and adding to a cultural revolution that helped establish a connection to their identity.
It lasts seven days, December 26th to January 1st, and is filled with festivity, feasting, and gift-giving. One of the most beautiful parts of Kwanzaa is the honoring of the seven principles, or the Nguzo Saba. It invites people to reflect on the things that are the most cherished and sacred in life over the course of those seven days, taking a full day to reflect on each one. Discover the significance of each principle and how it relates to you!
Umoja — Unity
To recognize the unity in family, nation, and race is an integral part of Kwanzaa. There is an African saying that says, “I am because We are,” which puts the emphasis on seeing that we are a part of a collective and always striving to make the collective feel supported and loved. How do you immerse yourself in community? How do you make your loved ones feel supported? How do you honor your background and pay homage to your nationality? It is through these questions that we can see the unity in our daily lives.
Kujichagulia — Self-Determination
This is an opportunity to define, create, support, and speak for ourselves. Through this, we can figure out our own personal purpose. Through self-determination and introspection, we can affect the rest of the world. What are your special talents? When do you feel most helpful? When do you feel most fulfilled? Is there a time when your heart feels at ease through action? Focus on these questions to support yourself in finding your truth.
Ujima — Working Together
When we come together and see the divinity in togetherness, we are united and strong. It is through camaraderie that we can solve the problems of the community together. Here is a chance to remind ourselves of the role we are playing in order to make for a better tomorrow. How can you and your unique voice and perspective take action to help others?
Ujamaa — Supporting Each Other
Through cooperative economics, or supporting the local economy through discussion and funding of local organizations and programs, we can come together to make a difference. Is there a charitable cause that needs volunteers? Is there someone less fortunate that could use some holiday cheer? This is a call to action to make a meaningful impact.
Nia — Purpose
Reflecting on your purpose is similar to self-determination. Nia is about setting personal goals in order to benefit the collective. Dig deep within and find the gift that only you could give in your own way. No one can do things the way you do them, because no one is you. By bringing your own personal energy to the goals you set for yourself, you are taking action and living out your purpose.
Kuumba — Creativity
Expressing yourself in a healthy way while also sharing it with the world makes for a more uplifting and expressive community, while also providing solidarity, empathy, and beauty. What are your creative gifts? Maybe it’s thinking outside the box in an analytical way to problem-solve. Think about how you can spread knowledge, traditions, or love in creative ways.
Imani — Faith
Faith, especially in one’s self, is key to the elevation of humanity. It is through self-worth and confidence that we are able to see our true purpose. To have faith in yourself is to believe that you are here for a reason and can carry out your mission. How can you affirm yourself not only today, but every day? How can you nurture yourself through times of trouble and keep your faith that it is serving you? What makes you feel confident and fulfilled? You are here to do what only you can do, and regardless of trials, you will do it in your own way.