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Holiday Heritage: How to Celebrate Kwanzaa with Southern Inspiration

Holiday Heritage: How to Celebrate Kwanzaa with Southern Inspiration

As soon as the traditional holiday of Christmas is over, another holiday takes over for the month of December. Created with the hopes to attach the values and culture of Africa and a time where African Americans can prepare themselves for the year to come is the holiday Kwanzaa. This seven day cultural holiday allows for individuals to still celebrate Christmas and also partake in a journey of forgiveness, thankfulness, understanding, cultural creativity, and the opportunity to learn about African American history. Even though Kwanzaa is seen as a traditional African American holiday, this holiday can be celebrated in your own unique or Southern inspired way. 

Kwanzaa, originally created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, is an annual celebration that African Americnas partake in. Inspired to become a holiday to bring African Americans together as a community and to reconnect with our loved ones and ourselves, Kwanzaa is holiday many we can appreciate and enjoy. Therefore, today we are going to share a few ways in which you can celebrate Kwanzaa with Southern inspired traditions. 

Since Kwanzaa focuses on seven core symbols and seven princples it is ideal to add some Southern inspired thoughts and ideas into the base symbols and principles of what Kwanzaa is all about. 

Seven Principles

Umoja = Unity 

Kujichaguila = Self-Determination

Ujima=Collective Work and Responsibility

Ujamaa = Cooperative Economics

Nia = Purpose

Kuumba = Creativity

Imani = Faith 

Seven Core Symbols

Mazao = Crops 

Mkeka = Place Mat

Muhindi = Ear of Corn

Mishumaa Saba = The Seven Candles

Kinara = The Candleholder 

Kikombe Cha Umoja = The Unity Cup

Zawadi = Gifts 

Southern Inspired Tips

Umoja = Unity

In order to strive and maintain unity in the family, many Southern families know that food brings everyone together in the household. So, prepare a Southern dinner dish that your family will love. Include Southern favorites such as sweet potatoes, corn & okra , and greens and watch as everyone eats and enjoys the presence of one another. 

Mishumaa Saba = The Seven Candles  

During Kwanzaa, candles are ceremonial objects that symbolically re-create the suns energy and also provides light. A great way we can include this iconic ritual of Kwanzaa while also being Southern is by selecting a Southern style kinara, candle holder, or a variety of individual candle stick holders. Altering this unique detail will help showcase your love for Southern decor and respect for the holiday Kwanzaa.   

 Zawadi = Gifts 

On the seventh day of Kwanzaa gifts are given to close family and friends and handmade gifts are expected to encourage self-determination, purpose, and creativity. A great way to Southern instensify this gift giving experience is by giving gifts that are Southern Belles or Southern Beaus favorites. Try making knitted scraves set for the little ones or recreate a Lowcountry painting or image that reflects our ancestoral history. Make it special and gift it to your loved ones.  

Overall, a great way to get into the holiday spirit of Kwanzaa is by decorating and creating a place for your family to be together in one room to reflect and particpate in the seven day rituals. So whether its turning your library room into your Kwanza santucary or creating a holiday tablescape specifically for Kwanzaa; make this holiday your own with Southern inspiraiton. Make sure you celebrate this holiday with your family and go into the new year more aware and proud of your heritage and history. Be sure to share images of your Kwanzaa Celebrations with us on social media using the hashtag #blacksouthernbelle. 




Terrianna Mccullough

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