Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States and also celebrated in the Western African Diaspora in other nations of the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba).

Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 as the first specifically African-American holiday Karenga said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.” The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest”. The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s, although most East African nations were not involved in the Atlantic slave trade that brought African people to America Kwanzaa was a celebration that has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzu Saba, the “seven principles of African Heritage” which Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy”.

During the early years of Kwanzaa, Karenga said that it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas. However, as Kwanzaa gained mainstream adherents, Karenga altered his position so that practicing Christians would not be alienated, then stating in the 1997Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, “Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday.”Many African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas.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 term for tradition and reason.
*Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
*Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, 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.
*lmani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed, corn (Muhindi) and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles (Mishumaa Saba), a communal cup for pouring libation (Kikimbe cha Umoja), gifts (Zawadi), a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principle

St. Stephen’s Day/ Boxing Day

St. Stephen’s Day, or the Feast of St. Stephen, is a Christian saint’s day to commemorate Saint Stephen, celebrated on 26 December in the Western Church and 27 December in the Eastern Church. Many Eastern Orthodox churches adhere to theJulian calendar and mark St. Stephen’s Day on 27 December according to that calendar, which places it on 9 January of the Gregorian calendar used in secular contexts. It commemorates St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr or protomartyr. It is an official public holiday in Alsace, Austria, Balearic Islands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Catalonia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moselle, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Sweden. The date is also a public holiday in those countries that celebrate Boxing Day on the day instead/as well, such as Canada and England

BOXING DAY

Contrary to popular belief Boxing Day is not a day when you get drunk and have a Punch-up with your relatives, rather it is a secular holiday that is traditionally celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day, which is also St. Stephen’s Day, a religious holiday. When 26 December falls on a Sunday, Boxing Day in many Commonwealth countries and former British dominions is moved to 27 December. In the UK, Boxing Day is a bank holiday. If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is given as a substitute bank holiday. On the occasion when Christmas Day is on a Saturday – with Boxing Day on the Sunday – the following Monday (27) and Tuesday (28) of December both become bank holidays.In Scotland, Boxing Day has been specified as an additional bank holiday since 1974, by Royal Proclamation under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971. In Ireland – when the island as a whole was part of the United Kingdom – the Bank Holidays Act 1871 established the feast day of St. Stephen as a non-movable public holiday on 26 December.

Since the creation of the Republic of Ireland following partition in 1920, only Northern Ireland officially continues to use the British name ‘Boxing Day’.In Australia, Boxing Day is a federal public holiday. In the Australian state of South Australia, 28 December is a public holiday known as Proclamation Day and Boxing Day is not normally a public holiday. The holiday for Proclamation Day is observed on the first weekday after Christmas Day or the Christmas Day holiday. Nowadays Boxing Day is popular in Australia as the first day of aTest cricket match held at the MCG. A Test match is also often held in South Africa starting on Boxing Day.In New Zealand Boxing Day is a statutory holiday; penalty rates and lieu time are provided to employees who work on the day.In some Canadian provinces, Boxing Day is a statutory holiday that is always celebrated on 26 December. In Canadian provinces where Boxing Day was a statutory holiday, and it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, compensation days are given in the following week

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants andtradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosseS or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and some other Commonwealth nations.In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland, the day is known as St. Stephen’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, Scandinaviaand the Netherlands, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day

The exact etymology of the term “boxing day” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which are definitive.The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship in order to collect donations to the poor. In ancient, pre-Christian Rome, Saturnalia was a Roman celebration during which slave owners would switch roles with their slaves. Gift giving was a part of Saturnalia and benevolence to slaves was a practice which may have influenced the later December tradition of boxing and presenting of gifts to people of lesser status

.Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/ early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day. In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.

James Brown

JamesBrownJames Brown, the late, great singer, songwriter, producer and Godfather of Soul, sadly passed away December 25 2006. Born May 3rd, 1933 in Barnwell, South Carolina. He was Raised mainly in Augusta, Georgia, by his great-aunt, who took him in at about the age of five after his parents divorced. Growing up in the segregated South during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Brown had a really impoverished upbringing and this probably explained his later penchant for wearing ermine coats, velour jumpsuits, elaborate capes, and conspicuous gold jewellry. Neighbours taught him how to play drums, piano, and guitar, and he learned about gospel music in churches and at tent revivals, where preachers would scream, yell, stomp their feet, and fall to their knees during sermons to provoke responses from the congregation. Brown sang for his classmates and competed in local talent shows .At age 15 Brown was sentenced to 8 to 16 years in prison after being arrested for breaking into cars but was released after 3 years for good behaviour.

While at the Alto Reform School, he formed a gospel group named the Flames (later the Famous Flames), which soon attracted the attention of the legendary Little Richard , whose manager helped promote the group, and they went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to record their first song “Please, Please, Please” which went on to sell three million copies and launched Brown’s extraordinary career. Along with placing nearly 100 singles and almost 50 albums on the best-seller charts, Brown broke new ground with two of the first successful “live and in concert” albums— Live at the Apollo (1963), and the follow-up, Pure Dynamite! Live at the Royal.During the 1960s Brown was known as “Soul Brother Number One.” His hit recordings of that decade have often been associated with the emergence of the Black Arts and black nationalist movements, especially the songs “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Don’t Be a Drop-Out”, and “I Don’t Want Nobody to Give Me Nothin’ (Open Up the Door, I’ll Get It Myself)”. Politicians recruited him to help calm cities struck by civil insurrection and avidly courted his endorsement.

In the 1970s Brown became “the Godfather of Soul,” and his hit songs stimulated several dance crazes and were featured on the sound tracks of a number of “blaxploitation” films. When hip-hop emerged as a viable commercial music in the 1980s, Brown’s songs again assumed centre stage as hip-hop disc jockeys frequently incorporated samples from his records. He also appeared in several motion pictures, including The Blues Brothers and Rocky IV, and attained global status as a celebrity, especially in Africa,where his tours attracted enormous crowds and generated a broad range of new musical fusions. Brown’s uncanny ability to sing soulful slow ballads as well as electrifying up-tempo tunes, often blending blues, gospel, jazz, and country vocal styles together, made him one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. His extraordinary dance routines featuring acrobatic leaps, full-impact knee landings, complex rhythmic patterns, dazzling footwork, dramatic entrances, and melodramatic exits redefined public performance within popular music and inspired generations of imitators. Many musicians associated with him such as Jimmy Nolan, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, and Maceo Parker have also played an important role in funk music.

As such a prolific singer, songwriter and bandleader he became one of the most iconic important and influential figures in funk and soul music from 1956-2006. This remarkable achievements earned him the sobriquet “the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business” and helped him become one of the most popular entertainers in 20th-century popular music. Among his most popular songs are “It’s A Man’s World” “Try Me” “Night Train” “Please, Please, Please” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” “I Got You (I Feel Good)” “Cold Sweat ” “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” “Get on Up” and “Super Bad. in 1986 Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution to the world of Funk and Soul Music, he made such an outstanding contribution to the world of Funk and Soul Music that his legacy will live on.

Sir Isaac Newton

English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton FRS was born 25 December 1642. He is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for classical mechanics. Newton made seminal contributions to optics, and he shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for the development of calculus.

Newton’s Principia formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, which dominated scientists’ view of the physical universe for the next three centuries. By deriving Kepler’s laws of planetary motion from his mathematical description of gravity, and then using the same principles to account for the trajectories of comets, the tides, the precession of the equinoxes, and other phenomena, Newton removed the last doubts about the validity of the heliocentric model of the Solar System. This work also demonstrated that the motion of objects on Earth and of celestial bodies could be described by the same principles. His prediction that Earth should be shaped as an oblate spheroid was later vindicated by the measurements of Maupertuis, La Condamine, and others, which helped convince most Continental European scientists of the superiority of Newtonian mechanics over the earlier system of Descartes.

Newton built the first practical reflecting telescope and developed a theory of colour based on the observation that a prism decomposes white light into the many colours of the visible spectrum. He formulated an empirical law of cooling, studied the speed of sound, and introduced the notion of a Newtonian fluid. In addition to his work on calculus, as a mathematician Newton contributed to the study of power series, generalised the binomial theorem to non-integer exponents, developed a method for approximating the roots of a function, and classified most of the cubic plane curves.

Newton was a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He was a devout but unorthodox Christian, and, unusually for a member of the Cambridge faculty of the day, he refused to take holy orders in the Church of England, perhaps because he privately rejected the doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond his work on the mathematical sciences, Newton dedicated much of his time to the study of biblical chronology and alchemy, but most of his work in those areas remained unpublished until long after his death. In his later life, Newton became president of the Royal Society. Newton served the British government as Warden and Master of the Royal Mint. Sir Isaac Newton tragically died 20 March 1726.

Christmas

img-thingChristmas or Christmas Day (Old English: Crīstesmæsse, meaning “Christ’s Mass”) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ,observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is prepared for by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night;in some traditions, Christmastide includes an Octave. The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies; when Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a stable where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then disseminated the message furthermore. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations, is celebrated religiously by the vast majority of Christians, as well as culturally by a number of non-Christian people, and is an integral part of the holiday season, while some Christian groups reject the celebration. In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the family.

61299_512159765482253_851543363_nAlthough the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, by the early-to-mid 4th century the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 25, a date which was later adopted in the East. most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on the December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to January 7 in the Gregorian calendar, the day after the Western Christian Church celebrates the Epiphany. This is not a disagreement over the date of Christmas as such, but rather a preference of which calendar should be used to determine the day that is December 25. In the Council of Tours of 567, the Church, with its desire to be universal, “declared the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany to be one unified festal cycle”, thus giving significance to both the Western and Eastern dates of Christmas.Moreover, for Christians, the belief that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than the exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.

1495511_722474054449676_1712107220_nAlthough it is not known why December 25 became a date of celebration, there are several factors that may have influenced the choice. December 25 was the date the Romans marked as the winter solstice, and Jesus was identified with the Sun based on an Old Testament verse. The date is exactly nine months following Annunciation, when the conception of Jesus is celebrated.Finally, the Romans had a series of pagan festivals near the end of the year, so Christmas may have been scheduled at this time to appropriate, or compete with, one or more of these festivals.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

christmas_tree“Christmas” is a shortened form of “Christ’s mass”. It is derived from the Middle English Cristemasse, which is from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), “Messiah”, meaning “anointed”; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist. The form Christenmas was also historically used, but is now considered archaic and dialectal; it derives from Middle English Cristenmasse, literally “Christian mass”. Xmas is an abbreviation of Christmas found particularly in print, based on the initial letter chi (Χ) in Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), “Christ”, though numerous style guides discourage its use; it has precedent in Middle English Χρ̄es masse (where “Χρ̄” is an abbreviation for Χριστός)

In addition to “Christmas”, the holiday has been known by various other names throughout its history. The Anglo-Saxons referred to the feast as “midwinter”, or, more rarely, as Nātiuiteð (from Latin nātīvitās below).”Nativity”, meaning “birth”, is from Latin nātīvitās. In Old English, Gēola (Yule) referred to the period corresponding to December and January, which was eventually equated with Christian Christmas.”Noel” (or “Nowel”) entered English in the late 14th century and is from the Old French noël or naël, itself ultimately from the Latin nātālis (diēs), “birth (day)”.

The canonical gospels of Luke and Matthew both describe Jesus as being born in Bethlehem in Judea, to a virgin mother. In the Gospel of Luke account, Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the census, and Jesus is born there and laid in a manger. It says that angels proclaimed him a savior for all people, and shepherds came to adore him. In the Matthew account, magi follow a star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to Jesus, born the king of the Jews. King Herod orders the massacre of all the boys less than two years old in Bethlehem, but the family flees to Egypt and later settles in Nazareth.

The earliest known Christian festivals celebrated Jewish holidays, especially Passover, according to the local calendar. These are referred to as “Quartodecmials” because Passover is dated as 14 Nisan on the Jewish calendar. All the major events of the life of Jesus were celebrated in this festival, including his conception, birth, and passion. In the Greek-speaking areas of the Roman Empire, the Macedonian calendar was used. In these areas, the Quartodecimal was celebrated on April 6. In Latin-speaking areas, the Quartodecimal was March 25. The significance of the Quartodecimal declined after 165, when Pope Soter moved celebration of the Resurrection to a Sunday, thereby creating Easter. This put celebration of the passion on Good Friday, and thus moved it away from the Quartodecimal. The Christian ecclesiastical calendar contains many remnants of pre-Christian festivals. Although the dating as December 25 predates pagan influence, the later development of Christmas as a festival includes elements of the Roman feast of the Saturnalia and the birthday of Mithra as described in the Roman cult of Mithraism.

December 25 was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar. Jesus chose to be born on the shortest day of the year for symbolic reasons, according to an early sermon by Augustine: “Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase. Linking Jesus to the Sun was supported by various Biblical passages. Jesus was considered to be the “Sun of righteousness” prophesied by Malachi. John describes him as “the light of the world.”

Such solar symbolism could support more than one date of birth. An anonymous work known as De Pascha Computus (243) linked the idea that creation began at the spring equinox, on March 25, with the conception or birth (the word nascor can mean either) of Jesus on March 28, the day of the creation of the sun in the Genesis account. One translation reads: “O the splendid and divine providence of the Lord, that on that day, the very day, on which the sun was made, the 28 March, a Wednesday, Christ should be born. For this reason Malachi the prophet, speaking about him to the people, fittingly said, ‘Unto you shall the sun of righteousness arise, and healing is in his wings.'”. In the 17th century, Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the solstice.