Kwanzaa: Cultural or Religious?

Despite the different religons among African-Americans, many have Kwanzaa celebrations in common.


12/25/2006 07:35:33 PM

I suppose I choose not to celebrate Kwanzaa because there are already holidays to commemorate the struggle of black folk, and to help us rededicate ourselves to what needs to be done. Watch Night is on Dec. 31st, and has pre-Emancipation roots, and Juneteenth, which runs from June 13-19th, commemorates Emancipation directly. Both are more "organic" holidays, not being created by a person for the purpose, but have become what they are- to remember what is past, and to devote oneself to the survival of future generations. I'll be observing Watch Night as a Muslim.


12/31/2005 01:36:47 PM

Kwanzaa is simply a nonsense made up festival that's viewed as laugable by those in other countries, including those of African heritage.


12/28/2005 08:53:15 AM

D2Z - African Americans have had to reach back, patiently, to regain some of what was stolen from them culturally and this is a legitimate spiritual and psychological need for everyone. To say that 'it is not really African' is of no consequence: it is African American and blood is a very tangible thing. One can get blood tested and find out who one's ancestors were. This ancestral link is tangible and real and alive, just like blood is. It's not a matter of cowboys or indians or blacks dreaming of Africa. This process of creating culture is good for the soul.


12/26/2004 03:42:40 PM

Hi! I haven't been following the debate here (...sorry about that...) but I did want to stop by and wish, for all who are participating, a happy and blessing-filled Kwanzaa. BTW, can anyone list for me the virtues that are celebrated during Kwanzaa? I've seen lots of partial lists, lately, but not one complete one. Thanks in advance! Tom G. Schermuly


01/04/2004 02:28:11 AM

I think the entire idea behind Kwanzaa is a "smooth over" for Black Americans who are leaving their Christian faith for Muslim (because they see it as a black-man's religion, ignoring Coptic Christians) but still want to have something special at Christmas time. How can Blacks, mostly five or more generations born in America, celebrate "African heritage through this uniquely American celebration"? It is not African heritage, it is just what Americans with darker skin dreamed up to "be African". This reminds me of Hollywood's idea of Cowboys and Indians back in the early fifties.


01/03/2004 12:23:59 AM

Dear Ifareligion: HUH? What the heck are you saying? Are you are trying to make a some kind of a point? Also, what does being angry and bitter, as you obviously are for some reason, have to do with religion, or any decent philosophy, for that matter? The rum to ESU???


01/02/2004 02:42:31 PM

ESU is the divine trickster of Orisa and also is the rightful ruler of the earth. OSAMARO IBIE volume 2. Xmas is a winter celebration of darkness survival of Jesus escaped from King Herod. To die childless because of attacking the elders of the Jews is not IFA. Take a J off of the front and a S of the back, Jesus is not another than the divine trickster teaching us a lesson. The rum to ESU, gifts, the celebration of darkness, tree worship, libations of zwanzaa are all part of African religions for those who want to be truthful.


12/30/2003 01:53:00 PM

BS"D Dr. Karenga's celebration (Kwanzaa) as a crystalization of Marcus Garvey's ideals embraces ALL of the experience. It can be defined as cultural if by culture we include ALL aspects of human life INCLUDING religious. Although Kwanzaa does not take on the specific "flavor" of the worship of any specific god or gods (or goddesses), it can certainly be celebrated within the context of any and all religious persuasions including the non-religious.


12/30/2003 01:49:15 PM

Racism will not stop until 1} the government does not promote it through segration in application and 2} when a person is not longer judged by the color of the skin but the content of the character. As ElGabilon stated and rightly so, all civilizatin began in Africa and thereby makes us all ancestors of that region. However, skin tone was caused due to the evolution of ecological variables, not cultural. Color does not define morals, character, committment or immorality. Further, there a few truly "black" people except from the region of Nigeria and no truly "white" people aside from albinos. There are literaly thousands of hues inbetween this range that was caused by the intermingling of the races. I.e. there is no color of the rainbow that is greater or less then the other. It is only through the character traits we placate in our own personal lives that truly define our value as the children of God. Rev


12/30/2003 11:18:38 AM

KWANZAA,well as humanbeings we all have to believe in something we can see,feel and touch.The idea Blacks need to believe because white folks robbed them of their culture.very simple answer to it all ONE GOD!Live and let live KWANZAAis just like XMAS A CULTURE THING!


12/30/2003 09:12:45 AM

The biggest hinderance to unity is ignorance. The celebration of Kwanzaa is no different than the traditions that someone of Italian background would celebrate. Generally people are afraid of that which is unknown to them. Kwanzaa is not a religion. It is a celebration of African Culture in America.


12/29/2003 11:43:25 PM

Since all humanity is of "African Descent", we all should celebrate Kwanzaa. However, we feel like Andy Rooney that for every new holiday, religious or otherwise we ought to eliminate one each time we add one to our list. Of course there will be those who splutter, fume, and rage that we are not all of African descent, but the facts are that we are and therefore should do something abour racisim since we are only ranting against ourselves, regardless of what color we are. As we look down from our throne at the childishness of racism the universe rumbles caused by our belly laugh.


12/29/2003 08:45:53 PM

sinsonte I cannot celebrate racism and is the reason I stated I did not attend "white only" fuctions, no matter how much cream is put on the top. None of the services you mentioned are preformed with a preferrence for a particular skin tone. The morals and values expressed in Kwanzaa, in my opinion, have nothing to do with skin color but deapth of character; which is colorless. Lest we forget the early Christains forced many blacks into the religion even as they were still enslaving them. If one wishes to celebrate good moral character - I'm there! But to use skin pigminatation as a causitive for thess character traits is as inappropriate as slave owners feeling they were fulfilling their Christain duty as a whiteman by coverting the lower level black by any means possible...even unto death! Racism by any other color smells just as sour. Just my unqualified opinion. Rev


12/29/2003 06:21:33 PM

themarirev, Does attending mass on Christmas Eve make one anti-Protestant; temple on Yom Kippur anti-Christian? Your comments remind me of that quip: "Individuality is fine, so long as were all doing it together." Gets yourself some candles and some good food, gather your family and friends and celebrate Kwanzaa til' the cows come home. Even better, befriend some African-Americans, you might get invited to their celebrations.


12/29/2003 03:44:03 PM

How can anyone actually place divinity upon skin pigmentation? Kwanzaa express great moral community and interpersonal values. Placing a color upon these values it like saying red roses are more divine then yellow rose. A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. I personally would celebrate Kwanzaa if I was welcomed as an equal brother. However, being the focus is only the "black" population, this is not so and I feel, only adds to racist perceptions in all races. It has become appearent that anything that is not labeled "black" must be for the "white man" and this too is an incorrect anology. I don't attend "white only" functions for the same reason. Racism is racism, it does matter how many pretty candles and rituals you add to it. We are either all the children of God or we aren't. I feel Kwanzaa drew a line that didn't need to be drawn. Rev


12/29/2003 02:25:27 PM

Exactly so.


12/28/2003 11:37:38 PM

Why is this observance even on Beliefnet? It has no religious connection at all.


12/27/2003 03:32:15 PM

After 30 plus years Kwanzaa has mixed reviews from hardcore traditionalists who disregard it as halfstepping to negroes who are terrified of it as a pagan subsitute for Xmas. My view is it is a covert introduction to African religion destroyed by racism and censorship. It is sad sad shame that racism classes us who practice a universal religion called IFA built by ORUNMILA is still feared by the modern world of all races and religions.


12/27/2003 12:20:42 PM

I am a black american of mixed race(i am half German and Lithuanian) yes i said BLACK not African-American cause black is a race african american is just a term, anyone can be an african american, an it is a continet not one regein. the is the very thing that is wrong with most of the american black celebrations out there, including Kwanzaa, there is not a connection to Africa. I celbrate actul African deitys and belifs along with those of the baltics/slavic region also cause that is my hertiage i dont need to create something such as Kwanzaa Kwanzaa is a good idea but not on the mark


12/27/2003 11:50:56 AM

I think pre Christian European festivals should be celebrated. How do you do this when the belief system they are based on has long been forgotten? The pagan Roman army intentionally destroyed Druidism in Gaul and Celtic Britain before Christianity was fifty years old. Modern versions of these religions are largely recent constructs based on very little knowledge and even less understanding. Jim


12/27/2003 10:01:02 AM

I've actually had the opportunity to celebrate Kwanzaa with some friends of mine and I really liked it. Even though I'm not African-American, I felt that many of the principles celebrated at Kwanzaa were wonderful and even were applicable to me. So happy Kwanzaa!


12/26/2003 09:51:57 PM

I think pre Christian European festivals should be celebrated. With the coming of the Middle Eastern Abrahamic religion Christianity, European religions began to be wiped out. No one talks about the anti-Gentilism of the Abrahamic faiths. Europe was colonized too. European religions also faced prejudice and still do today when what remains of them is not tied in with Middle Eastern Christianity.


12/26/2003 01:54:04 PM

Kwanzaa's racist nonsense and there is no so called 'religion of life in Africa'. There are many different religons and noone in Africa knows or celebrates anything remotely like Kwanzaa.


01/02/2003 05:17:21 PM

Cheers To ‘Kwanza’ for Druids!!!! (perhaps incorporating 12 actual days of Christmas---truly embracing/incorporating the winter solcistice anti-SADS device that the full celebration endorsed----- would fit the bill!!!)….such wisdom would be very much welcomed by those of us from ancestral traditions in which ‘Silent, Bright, Nights’ were not a winter specialty……. Peace and Love.


01/02/2003 05:16:24 PM

This would only be successful if one were shrewd and FEARLESS in articulating the TRUE reason for the disruption of the Druids (ie. losing the battle against colonization by Rome / ’civilization’) and thus embraced the ‘NATIVENESS’ of ‘EUROPEANESS’ instead. Echoes of this urge was observable in the reflex reaction of newly formed Christiandom against Islam (NO MORE INVADERS!!---these 'Natives' shouted, having experienced the sacking of their now precious Roman colonizer several times by likes of Atilla the Hun et al). Echoes can even now be felt in the struggles between the Irish and the English….Natives are Natives. And geologically, as well as genetically, the term Native is becoming more and more synonomous with ‘African’ ----when articulated within an APPROPRIATE contextual framework that is……Look it up : )


01/02/2003 05:14:47 PM

Hello All, This post is in regards to something that popped into my mind concerning b-baggins’s last post.…….What would be wrong with Europeans and/or individuals of direct European descent FULLY confronting and embracing the Good in their history? (Assuming the Good is honestly examined and/or more precisely defined that is.) That way, any Good observable in Kwanzaa Celebrations could indeed be observable/derivable from analogous efforts with regards to Druidic cultural investigations as stated by b-baggins....


12/27/2002 12:13:54 PM

The thing that should be remembered also is that much of what is popularly done during Christmas comes from the culture of western European lifestyle and culture. Much of the current ideal of celebrating christmas comes from the stories of Charles Dickens. Because of the dominance of European culture throughout the world over the past few hundred years it is easy for people to forget this and consider these things "universal" when in reality they do reflect a certain history and a certain worldview. I don't personally defend Dr. Karenga's personal racist views but i think that the average person who does something during Kwanzaa today is simply interested in affirming their connection to an idealized African and African American past.


12/27/2002 03:07:47 AM

A Scottish heritage celebration is one thing. A pan-European celebration would be quite another thing, and most people would probably (correctly) view that as racist. Africa is a continent, not a country. Why is a pan-African celebration not as racist as a pan-European celebration would be?


12/26/2002 08:47:22 PM

Folks, every year throughout the USA, Americans of Scottish ancestory (including yours truly)celebrate their common heritage through Scottish festivals, and yet most of those who do have never been to Scotland. So if African-Americans wish to celebrate their own common heritage, then more power to them. However I do wish that Kwanzaa were during Black History Month, which would be a more fitting time. Plus I wish that participants of Kwanzaa would recall that one of the first Gentiles to accept Jesus as Savior was an Ethiopian from Eastern Africa. If ancient Africans could worship Christ, then there is no reason why Kwanzaa celebrants can't do the same thing. After all, a special church service is a common feature of Scottish celebrations. So why not also have a special church service during Kwanzaa?


12/26/2002 05:42:56 PM

Origins of Other Christmas Traditions Check out the origins of other Christmas traditions. The Chronological History of the Christmas Tree Follow the history of the Christmas tree through the centuries.


12/26/2002 05:42:34 PM\ Christmas Tree Traditions Around the World Learn about Christmas tree traditions outside the United States. An American Christmas Decade by Decade Follow the story of how we came to celebrate Christmas as a National Holiday. Legends of Christmas Stories of how caroling, candy canes, gift giving, poinsettias and other customs became part of Christmas traditions.


12/26/2002 05:28:39 PM

I think it is good for people of African descent to have a common cultural event. I do not think it is racist. I do not get the impression it is about africans saying they are better than any other race. Rather, the have one cultural event to celebrate positive things like community and family with the African diaspora. I see it more as nurturing and positive. ALL holidays are made up, man-made. Christmas is a made up holiday. The only difference between holidays is WHEN people made them, so it does not matter if this holiday is relatively recent creation.


12/26/2002 04:22:13 PM

On the one hand, I can see why African Americans would like to celebrate a holiday that is more closely connected with their historical roots than a European solstice festival. On the other hand, couldn't Karenga come up with something more attuned with West Africa? I mean, Swahili is associated with East Africa, and blacks slaves came from West Africa. It's like an Italian celebrating Guy Fawkes Day!


12/26/2002 11:57:22 AM

Dr. Maulana Karenga spoke at the funeral of Khalid Muhammad a few years ago. Remember him? Khalid was the one who advocated mass murder of white people and Jews. So it doesn't surprise me that Karenga would invent a racial "celebration." Can you imagine Beliefnet having a prominent Asatru or other white racial religious holiday on its Home page? And why are Beliefnet's only "anti-Kwanzaa" links to evangelicals? Aren't there any other religious or humanist opponents of this racial divisiveness out there? The test for Kwanzaa is this: 1) Can a Chinese American family or Caucasian family or other non-black family celebrate it? If not, it's racist. 2) If so, can those same families publicly advocate for Kwanzaa as practitioners? If not, again, it's racist.


12/26/2002 11:32:22 AM

No one is forced to celebrate Kwanzaa. In my experience only a small percentage of American Blacks actually do anything with it. I believe it has caught on to some extent because of the unique psyche that has come out of the Black experience here in the US in particular and the West in General. If it is a more negative POV that you want on Kwanzaa you can simply go to one of the other articles that B-net has posted.


12/26/2002 10:37:14 AM

What a puff piece on Kwanzaa, a made-up holiday created by a socialist black activist to celebrate some sort of African uber-culture that has never existed. Saying that blacks should celebrate Kwanzaa because it is based in their black heritage is like saying Serbians should celebrate druidic rights because it's based in their white, European heritage. Give me a break.


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