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Kwanzaa 2017: The Seven Days of Cultural Celebration

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Kwanzaa, a seven-day cultural celebration honoring African American culture and African heritage, begins on December 26 and ends January 1.  The holiday, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year occurs over the same seven days each year.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University in Long Beach and a prominent member of the black power movement who co-founded the black nationalist group US Organization.

The holiday, which Kalenga created as a pan-African celebration, was first celebrated in December of 1966. Pan-Africanism is an international movement with the goal of forging stronger bonds between people of African descent all over the world.

In 2013, Karenga summed up the meaning of the holiday at an event in Rochester, New York, saying “the celebration of Kwanzaa is about embracing ethical principles and values … so the goodness of the world can be shared and enjoyed by us and everyone.”

Wendy Trice Martin, president of the Society for African-American Cultural Awareness, opens their 26th Annual Kwanzaa celebration in Jackson. (Photo: Sun file photo)

Kwanzaa is based on year-end harvest festivals that occurred in Africa for thousands of years and the name Kwanzaa” is derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which translates to “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa lasts for seven days to honor the seven principles Karenga chose to celebrate. Translated from Swahili into English, the seven principles are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

The traditional Kwanzaa greeting is “Habari Gani,” a Swahili phrase which translates in English to “what is the news?” In English, the proper greeting is “joyous Kwanzaa.” Those participating in the celebration of the holiday often begin the celebration a day or two early by decorating their house with fruits, Kwanzaa flags, and a kinara, the candle holder with seven available slots. At the end of each day, celebrants light a candle. On the first night, the black candle in the center is lit, and on each of the subsequent nights, an additional candle is lit.

The penultimate day of Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, is celebrated with the Kwanzaa karamu, or feast. The table and room are meant to be decorated in the Kwanzaa colors of red, green and black. During the meal, drinks are shared from a communal cup. Then, on the final day of the holiday, New Year’s Day, gifts are exchanged between parents and children, or all who wish to participate.

Camille Yarborough sings African music behind a traditional “kinara” candelabra during a news preview of the “Kwanzaa 2004: We Are Family” festival at the American Museum of Natural History on Dec. 22, 2004, in New York City. Mario Tama / Getty Images 2004

More detailed information about Kwanzaa:

When does Kwanzaa start? 

Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26 and lasts until Jan. 1. As mentioned at the beginning of the article—Dr. Maulana Karenga, who is a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. Following the violent and deadly Watts riots in Los Angeles, Maulana wanted a way to bring African Americans together to celebrate their heritage, according to History.com. Aspects of harvest celebrations like Ashanti and Zulu helped influence Kwanzaa.

How long does Kwanzaa last? 

Kwanzaa lasts forseven7 days. You can still celebrate Christmas if you celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is the celebration of a culture, not a religion. Gifts, or “zawadi” in Swahili, the chosen language for Kwanzaa and a popular language in east Africa, are exchanged during the celebration. The gifts are usually tied to African culture. Kwanzaa celebrations usually feature songs, dances, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large meal.

Where did the name “Kwanzaa” come from? 

The name is derived from “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in the Swahili language.

The colors of the candles used during Kwanzaa are symbolic.

Those celebrating Kwanzaa use a kinara, a Kwanzaa candle holder. Seven candles are lighted over the seven days of Kwanzaa and are symbolic of Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of African heritage. The colors of the candles are black, red, and green. Black is used to symbolize African people, red is used to symbolize their struggle, and green symbolizes the future and hope that comes from their struggle.

The seven principles when it comes to Kwanzaa. 

Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days because there are seven principles, or nguzo saba in Swahili.

  1. Umoja – unity
  2. Kujichagulia – self determination
  3. Ujima – collective work and responsibility
  4. Ujamaa – cooperative economics
  5. Nia – purpose
  6. Kuumba – creativity
  7. Imani – faith

Each day of celebration people reflect on the principles and do something that represents that principle. Kwanzaa is from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, but the principles are celebrated all year, Trice Martin said.

There are also seven symbols Kwanzaa. Mkeka, or mat, Mazao, or fruits and vegetables, Muhindi, or ears of corn, Kinara, or a candleholder, Mishumaa saba, or the seven candles, Kikombe cha umoja, or the unity cup and Zawadi, or gifts.

“Dr. Karenga wanted to connect African Americans to their African roots, so that’s why Kwanzaa was created and is still celebrated today,” Trice Martin said.

 

#LeNoraMillen              12-26-17

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Lifestyle

Living a “Toxin Free” Life- It is possible!

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Today, we struggle to understand the language surrounding our health and beauty products. GMO, toxic, nontoxic, and chemical-free are among many confusing words that plague us. It is nice to know that there are a few companies that are transparent, upfront, and honest about ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing. One of those companies is Poofy Organics. When Kristina Gagliardi-Wilson’s mother, Nella Gagliardi, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, they began to research chemical-free alternative products. They decided to create their own products when they discovered very few options. They have been creating delightful, healthy products since. The company, with its unusual name, is named after Kristina’s daughter Mariah, affectionately referred to as Poofy. The very popular Baby Poof line was created for her son Nicolas. It is truly a family affair, and all members help in the business. This New Jersey based business creates all the product themselves by hand, in small batches, using organic ingredients, including therapeutic essential oils and extracts. Poofy Organics does have the USDA certified organic stamp of approval.
Through the company’s distribution channel of Independent Guides, I had the pleasure of meeting Chelsea Allen. She had been using the products for three full years before joining as a representative. She was in search of some chemical free products for her two children. Her search led to this small New Jersey company. She has created an entirely toxin-free zone at home with Poofy Organics products. She has become passionate about helping others create that same life. One might be surprised at the number and types of products this company has. Some of the categories are: skin, hair, and body care products, cosmetics, deodorant, toothpaste, and an entire line of household cleaners. All are toxin- free. They even have nail polish and nail polish remover, which are free of toxins, formaldehyde, and acetone found in conventional products. Surprisingly, they even have nontoxic wax melts for your warmers, that are scented only with essential oils. Chelsea was very kind to share some samples of the products with me. The most amazing thing is that, contrary to what you might think, these products smell amazing. The bottom line is that your favorite products are available, they smell amazing, and you CAN detoxify your house safely. If you are a parent looking to create a safer home with less toxins, Poofy Organics is a great place to start. You can celebrate Earth Day with Chelsea Allen by visiting https://crunchychelc.poofyorganics.com and detoxify your home just like she did for herself and her family.

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Davidson Hotels and Resorts expands Portfolio with Hotel Zachary in Chicago

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Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Hotel Zachary has an exclusive blend, thoughtful amenities and artistic touches in every guestroom to locally-infused dining and signature cocktails from the City’s Top Chefs

 

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

This Week Davidson Hotel & Resorts – one of the nation’s leading hotel management companies for delivering hospitality and creating value – announced the addition of Zachary at Gallagher Way, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, to its highly curated Portfolio.

It’s owned by Hickory Street Capital, this exciting new hotel will be managed by Pivot Hotels & Resorts – Davidson’s Lifestyle and Luxury Division.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way is a distinctive boutique hotel that brings history and style together to deliver an authentic Chicago neighborhood experience.

It’s situated in the heart of Chicago’s renowned Lakeview neighborhood.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way is inspired by it’s namesake, famed Chicago architect, Zachary Taylor Davis, who designed the esteemed Wrigley Field in 1914.

Located in the heart of the city’s Lakeview neighborhood and adjacent to historic Wrigley Field, the 173-room hotel celebrates world-renowned Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way delivers a memorable guest experience to baseball fans, the curious traveler and locals in-the-know.

“My family and I are truly honored to bring the Hotel Zachary to Lakeview and the City of Chicago, “said Tom Ricketts, who is Chairman of Hickory Street Capital. “Hotel Zachary will pay homage to the neighborhood’s rich history and to Chicago’s architecture and design legacy. We’re excited to offer new chef driven restaurants and unique, year-round experiences for neighbors, families, fans and visitors.”

Hotel Zachary is situated within 238,000-sq-ft mixed-use development that also features some of Chicago’s best-known chefs and restaurants, including West Town Bakery & Tap, Big Star, Smoke Daddy, and Matthias Merges ‘new eatery, Mordecai. Hotel Zachary will deliver authentic local experiences on Chicago’s North Side, as a new in-town hub for city explorers, business travelers, visiting families and baseball enthusiasts to find entertainment, great dining and a distinctively personalized lodging experience.

For more information, please visit www.hotelzachary.com or follow along on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HotelZachary/ or Twitter http://twitter.com/hotelzachary

Source: Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

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Messengers Among Us

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This week I have been amazed at the world around me. I am continually working toward self-actualization.  On this quest, I seek to manifest clarity of my beliefs for my well-being.  My work is to constantly detach from the world around me to find truth among the noise and chaos that consumes our lives and time. 

Think about that for a moment – the noise and chaos consuming.  Like a heterotrophic bacterium, eating and absorbing dead matter, the noise and chaos consume our lives and time in that same manner.  Look at your life and examine how much time social media, the news, entertainment, gossip, work politics and the like consume your mind and time.  It is as if your mind is constantly being pulled to the left and the right, jerking itself to keep up with one distraction after another. 

In moving so fast, we are also distracted from the beauty and perfection that is the foundation of all that is.  We miss the important things in life and instead become conformed to what we are consuming, noise and chaos. Chaos is disorder and confusion.  In life, it shows up as confusion of who we are, where we are and how we are.  Constantly out of order.  Not only in our minds, but in relationship to the universe itself.

In my discovery this week, I realized that my rush to reach goals, achieve heights and make the most of my time here on earth has caused me to miss out on what makes the journey beautiful.  I was missing out on the hands that push me along the way, the voice that draws my attention forward and the lights that guide my feet.  The little things that assure my safe travel and help to lift me above life’s heavy pull to complete the voyage.  These impressions I neglected.  I let them drown in the noise. 

In my haste, these hands and voices appeared to be talking trees.  An oddity that became normal to ignore.  After a few interviews this week and conversations with some amazingly insightful and determined individuals, I realized I was not walking past talking trees.  In my day to day, I was walking past individual spirits in human form with messages for me.  Their niceties, their conversations, their encounters, I shrugged off as part of happenings of life.  I forsook their importance and my importance in these moments.  I disregarded the work of the universe to perfect these moments.  I overlooked how important I must be for the universe to send a message to me in such an orchestrated manner.  I discounted how valuable the messenger must be to hold such information and maintain a life appointment neither was aware. 

I imagine that from the beginning of time, their life was formed, and their path perfected to be a messenger for me and me for them.  We for others.  Our meetings converted to a special remembrance to renew our lives and minds and assist in opening the eyes of others to messages all around them.

This week I became clear and grateful to the universe and the messengers for helping me to see what I had made myself blind to see.  Taking for granted the souls that surround me on any given day.  I became grateful for why I am pushed to help and connect with others. For, in the end, they actually help and connect me to me.  I am giving to no one; everyone is giving to me.  When I am giving to others, I give to myself and they to themselves.  My hand to them is a key that unlocks the message they hold for me.

I have a few stories I am writing that will be published in the coming weeks.  I wanted to use other people’s stories and messages to continue to have readers question themselves and their beliefs.  Have readers find hope, purpose, and well-being through the eyes and lives of others.  I wanted to put a spotlight on unique journeys and stories.  In actuality, I received light and answers to my questions.  I was sent their way to be fed.  Though their stories will be told, my story, in turn, has been enriched by their passage through my life.

This week I interviewed a blind man who had greater vision and clarity than those with eyes.   A man who helped me to see that my eyes are not for seeing at all.  They are for realizing and becoming aware of what I have already created.  A man that could walk you into your destiny, guided by his foresight within.  He caused me to see where I was blind.

I interviewed a woman whose personal path was destined by her ancestral past.  It was so intense, that when she did not listen to its call, it pulled her into death to ignite the gift and shift her mind.  It called her to death to give her a message and clear the confusion she walked in.  She returned to life with a power and message that only she specifically could hold.  Her life, her heritage, her persona perfectly orchestrated to be the messenger of this message.  Her gift and light gave me life.

I met a group of activist advocating for assisted suicide.  Their stories were informing me of points of view and processes that drew levels of compassion and questions of my belief system that I would never have challenged without their meeting.  I met groups of advocates for children, politicians and school leaders sharing hopes, dreams, limitations, and struggles.   These individuals were destroying biases and shifting my views.  They helped me release limiting thoughts and walk boldly into uncharted territories.  I offered my help, support, and conversation, not knowing that, in turn, I would be lifted. 

Though all of these individuals have different stories apprised from their life perspectives, I found them all speaking to me.  Their lives, their stories, their pains, their joys and gifts all held messages for me.  Some were whispers of Spirit leading or directing me.  Some held confirmations.  Others held fingers of light directing me toward a future I was unaware possible.  Their messages released doubts, strengthened, encouraged, empowered, opened doors of my mind and destroyed biases.

I learned through this experience to slow down and hear those speaking.  Stop rushing past so fast, that the voices become talking trees in the forest of my life. I will listen from now on.  I will see and connect to the messengers around me.  I will be grateful for them.  Because of them, I know I am never alone, and a message is always waiting for me to question, to answer my questions, to direct or inform me of me.

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