Christmas may be past, but Kwanzaa is celebrated through the new year

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By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Kyrsten Eller

While Christmas ends at the end of Dec. 25, Kwanzaa is getting started the very next day.

For those unaware, Kwanzaa is a non-religious observation of African Americans’ ancestral roots created in the 1960s, and it honors seven core principles: unity, self determination, collective work and accountability, economic cooperation, purpose, creativity and faith. On each night of the weeklong celebration ending Jan. 1, celebrants light a candle in honor of those principles. It’s not an alternative to Christmas, but is a way to celebrate African culture and pride during the holiday season and is open to anyone regardless of ancestry or ethnicity.

The sixth day features a communal feast called Karamu, featuring music, dancing and storytelling along with, you guessed it, plenty of food.

Christian Community Church of Tuscaloosa‘s Pamela Foster said it’s a lovely way to honor those who came before and celebrate history.

Foster said the items laid out on the table each has an important meaning.

“We have a mat, which is the foundation for which we stand on, and we have gifts on the left,” said Foster. “We like to have homemade gifts, which symbolizes our creativity. We also have a bowl of fruit, which talks about our bounties. There’s supposed to be a maze of corn, which talks about our children. Even if we don’t have children, the children of the community become a part of who we are.”

Each candle on the seven-candle holder has its own meaning, too.

“The one in the middle is black, which stands for the melanin in the Black people,” Foster said. “On the left are three red candles, which stand for our struggle, and on the right are three green candles, which are about opportunity.”

The candles are lit day by day until the whole centerpiece features dancing candle flames.

“We as Christians believe in that light that has to do with our belief in Jesus Christ, and we really believe that the principles of Kwanzaa are applications of what the Bible teaches and what the teachings of Christ were all about,” Bill Foster said.

If you’re interested in following along, Christian Community Church of Tuscaloosa is posting its Kwanzaa celebrations each day via Facebook Live. You can view them all right here.

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