HAPPY KWANZAA

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday honoring African culture and traditions. It falls between December 26 and January 1 each year. Maulana Karenga, an African-American leader, proposed this observance and it was first celebrated between December 1966 and January 1967.

A candle stick holding seven candles is symbolic of Kwanzaa in the United States.

What do people do?

Kwanzaa is a holiday honoring the culture and traditions of people of African origin. It is celebrated by people from a range of African countries and their descendants. Kwanzaa consists of a week of celebrations, which ends with a feast and the exchange of gifts. During the celebrations, candles are lit and libations are poured. A libation is the name given to a ritual pouring of a drink as an offering to a god. During Kwanzaa, a wooden unity cup is used to pour the libations.
A Kwanzaa ceremony often also includes performance of music and drumming, a reflection on the Pan-African colors of red, green and black and a discussion of some aspect of African history. Women often wear brightly colored traditional clothing. Some cultural organizations hold special exhibitions of African influenced art or performances during the period of the celebrations.
Originally the people observing Kwanzaa did not mix any elements of other festivals into their celebrations. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly common for people to mix elements of Kwanzaa with Christmas or New Year celebrations. For instance, a family may have both a Christmas tree and a Kwanzaa candle stick on display in their home. This enables them to include both Christian and African inspired traditions in their lives at this time of year.

Public life

Apart from New Year’s Day (January 1), the days on which Kwanzaa falls are not public holidays. It is largely a private celebration observed by individuals, families and local communities. However, it falls between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when some businesses and organizations may be closed or run fewer services. If you need to do business with a company or organization with an African-American orientation during this period, it may be wise to check whether they are open as usual.

Symbols

The main symbols of Kwanzaa are a mat, on which to put the things needed for the celebration, the unity cup used to pour libations, a candle stick holding seven candles, the seven candles, ears of corn, the Kwanzaa flag and a poster depicting the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: unity; self-determination; collective work and responsibility; co-operative economics; purpose; creativity; and earth.
The colors of Kwanzaa are red, black and green. The Kwanzaa flag consists of three blocks, one in each of these colors. Three of the seven candles are red, three are green and one is black. Each candle represents one of the principles of Kwanzaa. The candle holder is carved from a single piece of wood and its shape was inspired by the form of the Ashanti royal throne.

Background

Kwanzaa was first celebrated in December 1966 and January 1967. The holiday was proposed by Maulana Karenga to give those of African descent a holiday to celebrate their own cultural heritage and the key values of family and community.  Although seen as an alternative to Christmas and thus possibly anti-Christian in the early years, many people now observe aspects of both festivals.
In 1997 and 2004, the United States Postal Service honored Kwanzaa by issuing stamps depicting an aspect of the festival. In 1997, the stamp was designed by Synthia Saint James and showed an African-American family observing the celebrations. In 2004, the stamp was designed by Daniel Minter and shows seven figures representing the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa gained popularity quite quickly. It is now estimated that about 13 percent of African-Americans (nearly five million people) celebrate the festival in some way.

TRUSTING GOD

38 DAYS CLEAN

Just for today: I will place my trust in a Power greater than myself, for only that Power will never let me down. As we learn to trust this Power, we begin to overcome our fear of life. Basic Text, p. 25

Hello and God Bless you.

As we come to the end of yet another year, there is one thing that is different with this one. The difference is that this end of year I am clean. It has been a very very long time since I have not had a drink or a drug for the holidays. That’s not to say that I didn’t want to have a few drinks and lots of drugs but I didn’t use and I am grateful for that. I have just recently renewed my belief in a power greater than myself. To be more specific I have a belief in God. I remember when I was younger I never had much belief in God, and I hated going to church and Sunday school. As time went on and my problems multiplied by the thousands I really lost faith. Now that I am clean I believe simply because the life I was living there is no way I remained alive on my own. There had to be some kind of divine intervention. With that knowledge I have come to believe that someone or something great enough to be able to protect me from myself exist. I have some knowledge of the Bible and read it occasionally but I am not an expert on the word of God. As with all new things it will take some time to get a full understanding but for now I choose to pray and trust in God. Prayer is a lot easier than trust but I am beginning to develop the trust and faith that I need. Now some people might think I am crazy when I say this and that is why I love the rooms so much, because no matter what you say people can relate. Since the noise in my head has been slowly quieting down there are times when I believe I can actually hear God answering some of my thoughts and questions. It doesn’t matter to me whether people believe that or not because I BELIEVE IT!

I thank God for saving my life, for guiding me to the rooms of NA, for helping me find a sponsor with knowledge and patience.I humbly ask him to remove my character defects (of which I have plenty) and to give me knowledge of his will for me, the power and courage to carry it out, for the power to get out of my own way and begin to live the life he has planned for me. It is not easy but it is something that must be done. I will practice this new way of life and try my hardest to be consistent. I know that I tend to waver after a little while that is why I pray for consistency. I pray for the power because I can also at times not put my all into something and do just enough to get by. I don’t want that in my recovery I want to put in 100% so I can stop being the loser, the failure, the worthless piece of you know what that I been feeling like for so long. I also ask God to give me the strength to forgive myself and others and to forget the past or at least to let it go. I have been harboring old feelings for too damn long and I know that it’s been stunting my growth. I feel it is time to move on, to turn the page on this chapter.

So my practice for today is trusting in my Higher Power God.

Thank you for reading today’s blog post.

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Peace and Blessings.

NAM