Christmas in African America is more of a family celebration. The people of African American community decorate their homes with homemade crafts and prepare a sumptuous meal to celebrate the festival. However, the festival holds a greater meaning for these people, than just celebrations and gaiety. The community reconnects to the basic values of life on this jubilant occasion and celebrates the festival in a very meaningful way. Read on to know more about the African American Christmas traditions.
Christmas Celebration In African America
For the American Africans, the Christmas season commences on December 26. Kwanzaa is their harvest time ritual, which marks the beginning of the festive period. Here, the origin of the holiday can be traced to the times of the civil rights movement, in the 1960's. The idea was to commemorate the African heritage of the African American community, which speaks the Swahili language. This ritual lasts for a week. Family gatherings and exchange of gifts take place and black, red and green candles are lighted in a series, to symbolize the seven fundamental values defined for the African American families, such as collective work and responsibility, faith, purpose, self-determination, unity, etc.
In African America, the main colors of Christmas are black, red and green. Paper decorations in these colors can be seen forming a part of the home decor. Homemade evergreen Kwanzaa bush ornaments are seen decorating the houses during Kwanzaa. Children of the community are taught about their heritage, to make them feel associated with the past. Events are also organized, where children can display their artwork. Photographs of the current generation are also displayed in this event. The traditional table setting includes an ear of corn for each child and a carved and decorated unity cup, which is to be used for the toasts on each evening of Kwanzaa. On all the seven nights, the families get together to light the Kinara, the seven-holed candle holder.
In the holder, the black candle in the center is lighted by the children on the first night, which stands to symbolize unity. The red candle is lighted by some other family members, symbolizing self-determination. In this way, seven candles are lighted on the seven days, each candle symbolic of a corresponding value. Everybody drinks from the Unity cup, after lighting the candles. Children receive meaningful gifts, such as books and a heritage symbol (African artifact,) on December 31. Popular African American foods are prepared for the feast. Music is played in the background, even as the dinner is enjoyed by the family. After the feast is over, everybody rises and swears a recommitment to the seven basic values of Kwanzaa. Celebrators wish each other happiness and prosperity.