Monday, December 21, 2009

Joyous Chriskwanzukah!

Several years ago someone I know referred to Kwanzaa as a "made-up holiday." Rather that try in vain to argue with the small-minded person who obviously got off on demeaning events important to other people, I just ignored it. But I've given it some thought, and I've decided that all holidays are made up.

Before I address this conclusion, I wanted to know more about Kwanzaa, because I simply didn't know anything about it. I did a little research. It started in 1966 and is neither religious nor political, but a celebration of African American culture.

Kwanzaa is based on the Nguzo Saba (seven guiding principles), one for each day of the observance, and is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. The seven principals are:

Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."
Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.
Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.
Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.
Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.
Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.
Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

What is a holiday? It's an observance created by a group of people with some common connection or belief. Sounds like Kwanzaa to me.

Most everyone reading this will know that Christmas is the observance of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, whom Christians believe grew into a great teacher and ultimately, the deified messiah of humankind (according to a vote of the Nicene Conference in 70 AD). Nothing in the Bible instructs Christians to set aside a day each year for such an observance. (I know this gets a little lost in the Santa Clause and winter solstice tree crap.
Christians have really fucked this whole thing up by overshadowing this sweet virgin-birth myth with winter solstice pagan ritual (the tree) and the legend of some old saint with bad fashion sense who lives in the North Pole(?) with elves(?). And don't get me started on that annoying drummer boy! A drummer at a birth? What the fuck?)

Likewise, Easter is the observance of the death and resurrection of that same Jesus of Nazareth. And again, nothing in the Bible instructs Christians to have such a holiday. (BTW the Christians have fucked this up too by involving some magic rabbit who sneaks into houses and leaves candy for kids. Leave it to Christians to take one of the most profound and gut-wrenching myths in human culture and commercialize it to sell jelly beans and malted milk balls.)

(Before you have a stroke - by "myth" I only mean "unproven." A myth is not necessarily false, it is just unproven. And if you could prove all of those events and miracles, you wouldn't need faith, would you?)

And Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. Chanukah is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar

My point is simply this: just because a holiday is not yours does not diminish its significance or its importance to those who do celebrate it.

And all commemorations are, essentially, "made-up" insofar as some group of people decided to start having a holiday for some significant event or belief.

So whether you are celebrating Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, or some combination thereof, (or whether you are a happy heathen taking advantage of the time off from work to drink and party/relax), Happy Holidays from RampantAnthem! (For your present I give you many sets of parentheses!)

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