How I Changed My Holiday Traditions to Match My Values

[T]hese days, I’m starting my own traditions, which include observing the African American cultural holiday Kwanzaa. That doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate Christmas; it’s just given me a new approach to doing so.

In 1966, Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa (derived from a Swahili phrase meaning “first fruits”), a weeklong celebration to introduce and reinforce seven values, called Nguzo Saba, of African culture. Karenga is a professor and chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. He said he created Kwanzaa specifically for African Americans, who did not have a day that celebrated their unique history and experience in the United States. While the early years of the holiday was in resistance to racism and White supremacy and rejected Christianity—therefore Christmas outright—the holiday has evolved to embrace all people of African descent no matter their religion.

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