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celebrating the Kwanzaa holiday

The Kwanzaa holiday is truly special and unique.  Created by Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American roots and heritage, and is observed each year from December 26th to January 1st.  The name “Kwanzaa,” along with all traditional readings, greetings, and cultural adjuncts involved in the holiday, is taken from Swahili, a Pan-African recognized language.

Amongst those root concepts adherent to Kwanzaa celebration are the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principals, which outline the core values of the observance itself and of the African people, with a heavy emphasis on global community.  These principals are: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Kuumba (Creativity), Nia (Purpose), and Imani (Faith). Kwanzaa symbols of the Seven PrincipalsGifts are given on Kwanzaa, just like other December holidays, with a primary focus on gifting to the younger generations.  Traditionally, among the gifts to every child will be at least one object symbolizing African heritage, and one book.  These can include African-made crafts or artwork, and books that teach African language or history.  Also popular amongst contemporary gifts for modified teens and young adults are plugs made of natural organic material similar to those worn by indigenous peoples in Africa, and talisman necklaces that incorporate African symbolism.

 traditional style organic wooden plugs

Some of the items used in Kwanzaa decoration include a candle holder with seven candles (for the seven principals), a unity cup (which is often black in color), and dried corn, to symbolize the bright future of the progeny.  The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green.  Red symbolizes the struggle of the people, green the promising future that emerges from that strife, and black the people themselves.

 titanium body jewelry for Kwanzaa

For a taste of traditional African tribal modification, check out our amazing Pinterest Board, The Culture of Modification.

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