Religion and culture annually merge in December however in 2019 in the same week simultaneous celebrations of Hannukah, Christmas, Boxing Day and Kwanzaa will close out the last year of the decade.
Blockbuster movie openings of “Cats,” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” the Radio City Holiday Spectacular, Twas The Night Before Christmas at Madison Square Gardens, the annual Kwanzaa concert at the Apollo Theater, and a myriad of holiday offerings, they transform the period to make every day this week seem like a holiday.
Hannukah with its Dec. 22 arrival unites Jewish families for eight days until Dec. 30 beginning with the daily lighting of the menorah.
The dedication commemorates the festival of lights which recall a miracle and victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian Greek army when one vial of oil lasted eight full days.
Dreidels, foods and gifts are all part of the Hannukah celebration.
Christmas Day on Dec. 25 returns the Christian tradition of gift giving, family feasts and gatherings, and most importantly the Biblical tale of the birth of Jesus Christ.
British Commonwealth countries relish Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.
The name has no relevance to the fighting sport.
It is the day in the 1800s Queen Victoria of England decided she would declare in honor of the poor. History dictates that the royal and the rich boxed up gifts to give their servants. On that day, workers were also gifted with a day off from work.
In the English-speaking Caribbean and Africa, beach-goers clamor to enjoy the extra holiday.
Foods and treats extend the previous day’s commemoration which throughout is usually marked by attendance at church services in honor of the journey of the Three Kings who centuries ago took gifts to the newborn king.
Kwanzaa begins on Boxing Day to mark a weeklong, African-American, cultural celebration. Regarded as the harvest of the first fruits, the celebration hails African heritage and culture with unifying principles to adhere.
Beginning with the lighting of a candelabra called the kinara, daily recitation of the Nguzo Saba detail a cultural roadmap which started in 1966. Each principle conceived by Dr. Maulana Karenga outlines positive African enhancements to unify the embattled race which was deprived of its own practices and cultural traditions when slavery forced Christianity as the primary religious practice.
They are – Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujaama (cooperative economics), Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith) and Nia (purpose).
Each year since Kwanzaa was introduced, festivities have been held to mark the celebration at the American Museum of Natural History and the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Following a week of impeachment hearings with two articles charging President Donald Trump with violating provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the advent of the New Year reflection provides a litany of good and bad recall.
Jamaicans are still jumping for joy over the recent triumph of Toni Ann Singh being crowned Miss World. Ironically, 2019 is the year every major beauty pageant winner is of African descent – Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA.
Grenadians registered cheer from their nation’s positioning in the sports/boxing arena.
And not to be overshadowed are the deaths of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Barbadian songwriter Irving Burgie, Jamaica’s reggae singer Louis Rankin, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, actors Tim Conway and Doris Day, rhythm and blues crooner James Ingram, film director John Singleton, rapper Nipsey Hussle, WBAI-FM radio producer Jesse “Dred Scott” Keys and Pulitzer prizewinner Toni Morrison.
Obituaries were also written for Michigan Congressman John Conyers, Indiana’s Richard Hatcher, and Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.
The year 2019 will be recalled for being another millennial milestone.
Here’s hoping the 20/20 vision will be clearer and far more far-reachingly visible in 2020.
Catch You On The Inside!