The celebration of holidays, including Christmas and Easter, underwent transformations among African Americans during and after slavery, while incorporating European Christian elements and practices. Slaveholders often controlled the religious practices of enslaved individuals, sometimes allowing or restricting certain rituals and celebrations. This happened around the world to the indigenous people through colonialism. Many enslaved Africans were introduced to the European version Christianity during slavery, either by force or through missionary efforts.
Kwanzaa was created by a professor of Africana Studies, in 1966. The holiday was established in the United States as a way to celebrate and honor African culture and heritage. Dr. Karenga wanted to provide African Americans with a cultural holiday that would promote unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
The observation that some corporations focus heavily on the commercial aspects of Christmas, such as sales and marketing, rather than the religious significance of the holiday, is a sentiment expressed by many. In modern times, Christmas has become a major commercialized holiday, with a significant emphasis on shopping, gift-giving, and promotions by businesses. Corporations invest heavily in marketing campaigns during the holiday season to attract customers. Advertisements often focus on creating a sense of joy, family, and celebration, even if the underlying motivation is to drive sales.
The Teachings of Jesus ( Isa / Yeshua ) and the Principles of Kwanzaa
Unity and Community. Jesus emphasized love for one's neighbors and the importance of unity within the community. Kwanzaa also promotes the principle of Umoja, which means unity in Swahili. Both highlight the strength that comes from people working together for common goals.
Self-Determination. Jesus often spoke about personal responsibility and the need for individuals to make choices that align with moral principles. Kwanzaa includes the principle of Kujichagulia, which emphasizes self-determination and the ability to define and speak for oneself.
Cooperative Economics. Both Jesus' teachings and Kwanzaa value economic principles that promote the well-being of the community. Kwanzaa's principle of Ujamaa encourages cooperative economics, supporting and building businesses within the community.
Faith and Purpose. Jesus' teachings often involve faith and a sense of purpose in serving a higher power and others. Kwanzaa includes the principle of Nia, which emphasizes purpose and the collective vocation of building and developing the community.
Respect and Justice. Both Jesus' teachings and Kwanzaa principles stress the importance of treating others with respect and seeking justice. Concepts like Imani in Kwanzaa, representing faith, echo themes of faith and justice found in Jesus' teachings.
What does shopping have to do with the teachings of Jesus?
The idea that shopping may not align with the teachings of Jesus is rooted in the principles and values found in the New Testament of the Bible, particularly in the teachings attributed to Jesus. Jesus often emphasized the spiritual and eternal aspects of life over material possessions. His teachings caution against placing too much importance on wealth and material goods. Excessive focus on shopping and consumerism can be seen as contrary to these teachings, as it often emphasizes the accumulation of material possessions.
In various passages, Jesus encourages his followers to seek first the Kingdom of God and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). This implies a prioritization of spiritual values, love, and compassion over the pursuit of worldly goods. Engaging in excessive or materialistic shopping may be perceived as inconsistent with these priorities.
Jesus spoke against the sin of covetousness, warning against the desire for possessions that may lead to greed and selfishness (Luke 12:15). Shopping with a focus on acquiring goods for personal satisfaction without regard for needs or the well-being of others might be seen as conflicting with this teaching.
Jesus often praised a simple and content life, encouraging his followers to find joy and fulfillment in spiritual values rather than in the abundance of possessions. Excessive shopping, especially driven by consumer culture, can be seen as working against the idea of finding contentment in simplicity.
What does scripture say about the Christmas tree and paganism ?
Polytheism while not universal, many pagan belief systems involve the worship or acknowledgment of multiple deities or a belief in various spiritual forces
When it comes to biblical references, there are passages that caution against adopting pagan customs or practices. One verse often cited in discussions about Christian practices and pagan customs is from the Old Testament:
"Thus says the Lord: 'Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.'" (Jeremiah 10:2-4 )
7 principles of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa celebrates seven principles, known as the Nguzo Saba, which were developed by Dr. Maulana Karenga, the creator of Kwanzaa. Each principle is represented by a Swahili term. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are:
Umoja (Unity) Umoja emphasizes the importance of unity within families, communities, and the African diaspora. It encourages people to strive for and maintain unity in all aspects of life.
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) Kujichagulia encourages individuals to define themselves, speak for themselves, and determine their own paths in life. It emphasizes self-empowerment and the ability to make choices that positively impact oneself and the community.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) Ujima stresses the idea of working together as a community to solve problems and achieve common goals. It promotes collective responsibility for the well-being of the community.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) Ujamaa advocates for building and maintaining businesses that benefit the community. It emphasizes economic cooperation, supporting local businesses, and working towards economic self-sufficiency.
Nia (Purpose) Nia encourages individuals to have a sense of purpose and to work collectively to build and develop their communities. It emphasizes setting goals that benefit both individuals and the community.
Kuumba (Creativity Kuumba calls for continuous improvement and creativity in all aspects of life. It encourages individuals to use their creativity to make their communities more beautiful and productive.
Imani (Faith) Imani focuses on maintaining faith in the community, one's people, parents, teachers, leaders, and the righteousness of the struggle. It emphasizes the importance of believing in the success and victory of the community.
Embodying and practicing good principles goes beyond worldly or material concerns. Embracing and practicing good principles all year round can contribute to personal growth and fulfillment. It often involves self-reflection, mindfulness, and a commitment to continuous improvement in areas such as emotional intelligence, empathy, and resilience. Individuals who prioritize good principles often seek to contribute to a better world. Whether through acts of kindness, social justice advocacy, or environmental stewardship, the application of ethical principles can extend to making a positive impact on a broader scale.