The end-of-the-year holiday season is here, and people of all stripes are in the process of celebrating. This season has become very commercial, with the chief activity being that of shopping, of spending money. Christmas gifts are becoming the “reason for the season” while religious overtones are almost becoming non-existent.
Christmas, or “Christ’s Mass,” celebrates the advent of the Christ. The actual birthdate of Jesus Christ is highly debated, with some saying he was born January 6 and others saying he was born during the spring. Whatever the case, in the Christian world this is a time to celebrate the Christ and all that he represents.
The foremost principle that should be held up is love, agape. This is why people think of helping the poor and disenfranchised; this is why people are urged to take food to homeless shelters.
The alternate personage substituting for Christ during this season is Santa Claus. To children, the admonition to be good all year so that they will receive their heart’s desire in gifts has an esoteric import. Basically, the concept of reward for good behavior is a subtheme of the Christmas celebration.
Though some people resist the notion of misleading children with a supposed imaginary person in the name of Santa Claus, there are others who are moving away from what they consider an imaginary “Christ.” In other words, there is a train of thought that says Christians are actually worshipping the annual return of the Sun. They point out a number of other non-Christian “saviors” who sport the same profile. Which brings us to another point.
Whether you are a Christian and believe in Jesus Christ, Santa, or whatever else is honored this season, there is something in this time period for almost everyone! These are truly “holy days,” i.e., days set apart as being special.
The Wiccans honor the winter solstice, Jewish people celebrate Hanukah, and others have various and sundry reasons for celebrating this important season. African Americans have found a way to celebrate the Christmas season outside of the bounds of Christianity.
Kwanzaa, or First Fruits, was introduced by Maulana Ron Karenga in 1966. It presents a number of elements that have become embedded in Black culture in spite of a number of critics who lambast the idea. Kwanzaa was seen as a sort of substitute for Christmas and it sought to replace the commercial aspect of the season. Though the idea was initially of providing educational gifts, Kwanzaa in actuality, has developed a tradition of economic celebrations as vibrant as many others.
Kwanzaa market places, where African-centered arts and artifacts can be bought, along with performances that highlight African culture, are a mainstay of this time period. So, in a sense, the commercialism of Christmas has been replaced by the commercialism of Kwanzaa. But this is not a bad thing, per se.
Kwanzaa is noted by the observance of seven principles known as the Nguzo Saba. These principles, if understood and adhered to, have the potential to offset many of the problems faced by the Black community. They are designed to help heal the African diaspora, especially in the Black American iteration.
The Nguzo Saba are as follows: Umoja – Unity; Kujichagulia – Self Determination; Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility; Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics; Nia – Purpose; Kuumba – Creativity; and Imani – Faith. If serious thought is given to each of these principles by every Black person in America, some of the problems that the community faces would disappear. In other words, if we UNIFY around an idea that WE DETERMINE; WORK COLLECTIVELY to achieve the identified goals; SPEND OUR MONEY WITH EACH OTHER; understand the importance of having A SENSE OF PURPOSE; use our CREATIVE IMAGINATIONS to develop systems that are liberating; and finally, retain the FAITH needed to accomplish collective goals, the sky is the limit as to what we can accomplish as a people. If the Black community in the United States and elsewhere would adhere to these principles, we would be able to pull ourselves up out of the socio-political quagmire in which the community seems to be immersed. With this said, the Crusader wishes a very happy and productive holiday season for you and yours. A Luta Continua.