With Thanksgiving past and preparations for the next set of holidays in full swing, how can you be part of the celebration with the community? What other festivals are celebrated locally besides Christmas?

Considering the diversity of the community in Stockton, Kwanzaa is one of the many celebrations seen. Millions of people of African descent celebrate in the United States and around the world from December 26 to January 1.

How did this cultural festival come about? And how is it celebrated? Here are the details:

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a Swahili word which means ‘first’ and means the first fruits of the harvest, said the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum (ACM), located at Anacostia, one of the oldest neighborhoods with a rich African American history in Washington DC The museum opened in 1967 as part of the Smithsonian’s outreach effort to the local African American community.

Since then, the ACM “documents and preserves the memories, struggles and successes of communities, and provides a platform where diverse voices and cultures can be heard”.

“In Africa, there are many customs common to the different ethnic groups present on the continent. One of them is the celebration of the harvest ”, documented MCA. In 1966, Maulana Ron Karenga and the American organization adopted the basic principles of harvest celebrations in Africa to create the Kwanzaa observance.

Maulana Ron Karenga is an activist, professor of African studies and author recognized for the creation of Kwanzaa. He is now the chairman of the department and advisor for the Department of African Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

Karenga acknowledged that African Americans do not live in fully agricultural settings like some communities and their ancestors did in Africa, but “he sought to emphasize that the basic principles found in the production of the crop are essential. to building and sustaining strong and healthy communities, ”the ACM reported.

In doing so, Kwanzaa has been developed as a time when communities reflect on these principles of harvest production, share and appreciate the fruits of their labor and re-engage in the collective achievement of a better life for their family, their community and their people.

How is Kwanzaa celebrated?

“Kwanzaa is a time of learning, family and celebration,” said the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Each family and / or community may have slight variations on the specifics of their celebrations, but in general, people who celebrate “come together to share a feast, to honor ancestors, to affirm the bonds between them and to celebrate African culture and Afro-American “. the documented museum.

Every day a candle is lit to mark the principle of this day and “make sense of the principles with various activities, such as reciting the words or writings of great black thinkers and writers, reciting original poetry, African percussion and share a meal of food inspired by the African diaspora, ”the museum reported.

The seven principles are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economy), Nia (goal), Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith).

The essential symbols of Kwanzaa – placed at a table or around a house – include the Kinara (candle holder), Mkeka (carpet), Muhindi (corn to represent children), Mazao (fruit to represent the harvest) and Zawadi (gifts ).

The colors of the Pan-African flag are traditionally used in spaces, decorations and clothing; red to represent the struggle, black to represent the people and green to represent the future.

The museum posted a list of texts, materials and reflections under each principle throughout the week of celebration. For more details on these, they can be found at nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/seven-principles-kwanzaa.

Where to celebrate Kwanzaa?

On January 1 – at the end of Kwanzaa – the Stockton Black Leadership Council traditionally holds its annual Freedom Day parade to commemorate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The proclamation signed by the President of the era, Abraham Lincoln, said all those held as slaves will be free.

Flyer for Stockton Black Family Day Kwanzaa 2021 celebration in Stockton, California.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, founding board chairman and former Stockton city councilor Ralph White said the parade had been called off as a precaution and prevention against the virus. He said he expects the parade to take place again the next holiday season, January 1, 2023.

For those who want to celebrate with children within the community, Stockton Black Family Day has partnered with First 5 San Joaquin and the Stockton Black Employees Association for this year’s Kwanzaa celebrations, held on Tuesdays and Thursdays December 28 and 30. The two-day celebrations aim to promote children’s literacy with storytelling and family activities.

On Tuesday, December 28, the community is invited to meet from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Legendary Coffee & Books inside the Waterfront Warehouse at 445 W. Weber Ave. in Stockton.

Later in the week, the community is invited to come together again on Thursday, December 30 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stockton Kids Club at 303 Olympic Circle.

Do you know of any other Kwanzaa celebrations this season? Let us know at [email protected].

Record-breaking journalist Laura Diaz covers social justice and societal issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @laurasdiaz_. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.