At this dark time of year, we can't get enough of celebrating light. Friday will mark the beginning of Kwanzaa, another occasion for bringing families together by candlelight.
Our focus on the creation and nurturing of family rituals this month makes us especially interested in the origins of the modern celebration of Kwanzaa. Civil rights activist Dr. Maulana Karenga conceived of Kwanzaa in 1966 as a celebration of African heritage. The seven days of Kwanzaa are based on seven principles called Nguzo Saba: Umoja (unity); Kujichagulia (self-determination); Ujima (responsibility); Ujamaa (purpose); Kuumba (creativity); and Imani (faith).
For the youngest children, these ideas and the rituals that surround them are beautifully explained in Karen Katz's My First Kwanzaa. For parents of any faith or heritage, the holiday reminds of how powerfully traditions, whether ancient or of more recent vintage, can bind families and their communities together.
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