Week-long celebration of Kwanzaa starts in Brooklyn : worldleaks
Kwanzaa shines bright in Brooklyn.
Brooklynites rang in the first day of the week-long festival of Kwanzaa on Thursday with traditional dances, festive food, storytelling, music and the symbolic candle-lighting ritual.
The African-American and Pan-African holiday, which is based on ancient African year-end harvest festivals, is noted by an estimated 28 million people worldwide from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.
“I see Kwanzaa as a holiday of the spirit,” said Tabeel Rush, 55, an immigrant from Grenada whose Tabeel Aromatherapy Gift Shop and Salon in Park Slope has become a popular goal for Kwanzaa shoppers over the past 18 years.
Rush said she has sold dozens of special candle holders called kinaras that are made to fit seven candles each being one the principles that Kwanzaa represents, which include: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
“It’s an African cultural holiday that is centered around these principles which we need to live by and understand,” she said.
Each night during Kwanzaa a new candle is lit to know the principle that is guessed be the focus of that day.
“Kwanzaa, for me, is a way to celebrate the end and the beginning of the year in a way that awards my heritage,” said Shola Jones, 31, of Flatbush, who said that he and his family always attend the annual Kwanzaa celebration at Medgar Evers College.
“Kwanzaa gives those of us who describe as members of the African diaspora a chance to strengthen our community and be guided by principles that empower, uplift and liberate us,” he said.
Observers often exchange gifts on the last day of the holiday, which usually culminates in a large traditional feast with friends and family.
Some people said they were newcomers to Kwanzaa, which was made in 1966 by a professor of black studies at California State University.
“It’s just never been part of my family traditions,” said Flatbush resident Nadya Stevens, 30, who said that she made a pact with her cousin to begin celebrating it once they both have families of their own.
“It means unity and closeness and appreciation, which is what all the holidays are all about,” she said.
Several Kwanzaa events are planned in Brooklyn, including:
– A song-and-dance Kwanzaa extravaganza at the Center for African Diaspora and Dance, 558 Fulton St. near Flatbush Ave. in Fort Greene, (718) 935-9700. Dec. 29, 11:30 am. $10 for family of five.
– The International African Arts Festival’s 47th annual Kwanzaa celebration featuring Dr. Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa, Middle School 35 at 272 MacDonough St. between Lewis St. and Marcus Garvey in Bedford-Stuyvesant, (718) 479-4186. Dec. 27, 6:45 pm. $12 in advance. $15 door. $8 for seniors and children under 12.
– A kid-friendly Kwanzaa celebration at the Central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza between Flatbush Ave. and Eastern Pkwy. in Prospect Heights, (718) 230-2198. Dec. 27, 3 pm. Free.
– Kwanzaa festivities for kids at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Ave. near St. Marks Ave. in Crown Heights, (718) 735-4400, Dec. 27, 28, 29, 30. Free.
– Kwanzaa spa day with drummers, poetry, and advice from a financial advisor at Tabeel Aromatherapy Gift Shop and Salon,76 Fifth Ave. near St. Marks Pl. in Park Slope, (718) 398-4959, Dec. 29, 10 am.
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