For most people, Kwanzaa isn’t even a consideration. Even most of us Blacks, many are still scratching our heads trying to figure out exactly what it is.
But as I sat through a free screening of “The Black Candle” which is a new movie about Kwanzaa, it already confirmed what I have already been writing about all alone, it’s just a man’s attempt in creating another spiritual celebration like Christmas and Hanukkah.
How so? There’s food, prayer (libations), gift giving, and the spiritual side of Kwanzaa which urges everyone to practice its principles everyday. And instead of God being the center of worship and adulation, it’s the ancestors whose names are called and worshipped as if somehow by calling upon their names will make us all better people.
So although Karenga said it is not a religious celebration, he’s imitated much of Kwanzaa from the religious holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. Hanukkah has the lighting of eight candles using a menorah while Kwanzaa lights seven candles using a kinara. In both Christianity and Judaism, the principles of the New Testament and 10 commandments are urged to keep while Kwanzaa uses the seven principles or the Swahili name of Nguzo Saba to urge its participants to follow. Kwanzaa ceremonies make use of “elders” while Christmas and Hanukkah ceremonies are sometimes held by pastors and rabbi. Prayers are said in Kwanzaa by use of libations.
And although Kwanzaa is tailored after the African harvest celebrations, no one can recall harvest celebrations being held in December. Is it by accident Karenga selected the time right after Christmas and during Hanukkah?
And yet, it’s not religious. Although God’s name is never invoked during a true Kwanzaa celebration, there is much spirituality, much adulation and worship and much teaching of moral principles for the betterment of human kind.
Even like Christmas and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa has been completely commercialized. There’s greeting cards, Kwanzaa kinaras (the candle holder), Kwanzaa stamps, and books about Kwanzaa, and the list goes on. Quite ironic because one of the reasons the creator of Kwanzaa, Karenga, created it was to get folks away from the commercialism of Christmas. Perhaps now Karenga can understand how something so special as Christmas has lost much of its true meaning to people because of the vast commercialism of it.
Secular humanism is the religion and the object of worship is man himself. That’s why this author has warned fellow Christians not to involve themselves in joining in this celebration because one can not serve two masters. Either it’s God one worships or it’s man – it can’t be both!
Kwanzaa will continue to be celebrated as most will consider it just another harmless holiday. Some will even accuse Christmas as being the evil celebration and not Kwanzaa.
But let’s just set this straight so the next time someone says that Christmas can’t be said or celebrated in their place (such as a school or business) due to the ill-used statement of “separation of church and state,” just tell them Kwanzaa is a religion too!
Addendum: An article on Slate.com gives an example of one using Kwanzaa as a religion when the article ends with the author saying:
“My simple defense of Kwanzaa is that in the short time that we celebrated the holiday, it brought my family together. We weren’t hitting the after-Christmas sales or trying out our new bicycles. We were kneeling around an altar and watching as the water ran from the jug in my brother’s hands.”
The author doesn’t say whom they are worshipping at the Kwanzaa altar, but it is clear that Kwanzaa is definitely practicing religious rituals, contrary to the moniker always used to describe Kwanzaa – “a non-religious holiday.”
(see that complete article on Slate here: Bring out the Kwanzaa Kinara)
© 2008, Carlotta Morrow. All rights reserved.