Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day and Kwanzaa
Hi, everyone. I hope your holiday season has been safe, peaceful and enjoyable. I’ve been a trifle under the weather; my husband and I are both suffering from head colds. Nevertheless, we’ve been having a relaxing time and enjoying our blessings.
Blogmas isn’t quite done for me. December 26 sees us with two holiday celebrations to consider.Victorian Biscuit Tin, public domain image via Wikimedia Commons
The first is Boxing Day/St. Stephen’s Day. If you remember the words of “Good King Wenceslas,” you’ll recall that the Bohemian leader was walking among his subjects on “the feast of Stephen,” distributing largesse. This is where the tradition of Boxing Day comes in. Household servants would be given a box of food and clothing the day after Christmas. Nowadays, this UK tradition usually sees people like the postman being given a gift. Based on the legend of Wenceslas, the tradition of distributing largesse on this day goes all the way back to the 10th Century, when the man was murdered and martyred.
St. Stephen’s day is an official public holiday in several regions, including the Republic of Ireland, Catalonia, Denmark, Finland, and several others. You can learn more about it at this link.U.S. Air Force graphic by Sr. Airman Damon Kasberg, via Creative Commons
Kwanzaa, which begins today and runs through Jan. 1, is an entirely modern tradition. Established in 1966, the celebration acknowledge the African diaspora, and celebrates African-American culture in the United States. The word kwanzaa derives from the Swahili matunda ya kwanza, which means “first fruits of the harvest.”
Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder called the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba—the seven principles of African Heritage), which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy,” consisting of what Karenga called “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.” These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili word meaning “common”. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
As usual with these Blogmas pieces, I like to include a song. This time, it’s the Chieftains and Elvis Costello performing “The St. Stephen’s Day Murders.”