I asked. “What do witches eat?” “Witches loves pork meat,” she said. “They loves rice and potatoes. They loves black-eyed peas and cornbread. Lima beans, too, and collard greens and cabbage, all cooked in pork fat. Witches is old folks, most of them. They don’t care none for low-cal. You pile that food on a paper plate, stick a plastic fork in it, and set it down by the side of a tree. And that feeds the witches.”
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—John Berendt
It is a witches brew that feeds Southerners who aren’t witches, especially on New Year’s Day. Gather ‘round children, your social studies lesson is about to begin.
Southern culture is steeped with superstition, from painting our porch ceilings “haint blue” (Gulla/Geechie) to protect against evil spirits, to hanging a mirror beside our front door (Appalachian) to occupy the devil. Another superstition involves…
“For families across the country, today marks the beginning of a joyous time to reflect on the rich African-American culture and to remember the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith—principles that reflect our most cherished values as Americans.” — Barack Obama
I originally shared a similar post in 2015. Once again, I made the mistake of reading some of the comments made about Kwanzaa from some of our news sources. Little has changed it seems, so I decided to rewrite and share again.
Kwanzaa is racist. It is contrived. SOME PEOPLE are trying to replace Christmas. The founder was a Sixties’ black militant felon with ties to the Black Power Movement and not even African. Most of these arguments are made by very “hard right” publications like…well all of them. Or made by internet trolls on liberal or middle of the road news sites.
Is St. Patrick’s Day racist? It’s no longer a religious celebration I would say. Is Cinco de Mayo racist? It celebrates a great Mexican victory over the French…Mexico for the most part doesn’t celebrate it. There are dozens of other ethnocultural celebrations, mostly white celebrations, so why pick on Kwanzaa? Are our racist petticoats still showing?
Kwanzaa is contrived. All holidays are contrived. When Adam and Eve were created or our forefathers learned to walk on two feet, did they have a holiday to celebrate? I don’t think so. I don’t know when the celebration of Christmas first occurred. Well, I do. I also know there was no biblical mandate to celebrate the Birth of Christ at all.
Emperor Constantine first mandated the celebration of Christmas on December 25 in 336AD. Constantine didn’t know when Jesus was born. No one knows and Constantine did it as much as a political move as a religious one. Does that detract from its importance? While Christmas was celebrated in the colonies before John Smith raised a glass of eggnog, it didn’t become a national holiday in the US until 1870. Contrived? Made up? Well, the date is.
Again, why are we picking on Kwanzaa? If you are going to pick on a contrived holiday pick on St. Valentine’s Day. The former religious celebration has become an observance of guilt for the purpose of lining the pockets of candy makers, jewelers, and florists.
Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends January 1 and is not a religious celebration at all. It is a celebration of family, community, nation, and race and doesn’t compete with Christmas or the dozen other year end or New Year celebrations. Why not pick on them?
I cannot deny that Kwanzaa’s founder, Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett) was a Sixties Black Power militant, who at the time had never set foot in Africa. Let’s remember this is an African American celebration celebrating African culture, not an African celebration celebrating African culture. He did serve time on felony charges and was paroled in the mid Seventies. His time in prison was well spent. He is now Dr. Karenga and taught African Studies which I guess makes him even worse…a liberal.
The Sixties were a time of social strife. Civil Rights, the War in Viet Nam, gender inequality, the Native American movement, and the Chicano movement were just some of the social issues championed by people like Cassius Clay, known to us now as Muhammad Ali, or Tommie Smith’s and Juan Carlos’s Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympics.
Kwanzaa was “contrived” just two years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and just two years before the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. African Americans might be forgiven for wanting something positive to hang on to…and still might.
Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 to be the first pan-African holiday. Karenga said his goal was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holidays and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”
Kwanzaa is inspired by African “first fruit” traditions, and the name chosen is from Swahili, “matunda ya kwanza.” The rituals of the holiday promote African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the “seven principles of African Heritage” that Karenga described as “a communitarian African philosophy”. Thank you, Wikipedia
Those seven principles are: Unity, Self-determination, Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Radical?
To say it is not African is absurd. There are over fifty countries in Africa and some three thousand tribal units. Many of the countries did not exist at the time Africans were being shipped to the New World. Each tribe has a different culture. Kwanzaa is a blending of those cultures. Many African Americans do not have the luxury of knowing the country or tribe of their origin, so Kwanzaa is not culture specific. Whoopsie doo dah! I would say celebrate to your heart’s content and if you don’t…quietly go about business.
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ― Shel Silverstein
Humanity is capable of such good. Humanity is capable of flight, capable of putting people on the moon and returning them home again. We can be so amazing.
I hope we can find our amazing light and shine it throughout the Universe.
Music, art of all types, the application of human creative skill and imagination…mathmatics, science,..we’re problem solvers.
I hope we put our collective minds together, solving more world problems, making life better for all.
Amazing breakthroughs in medicine, evolution in technologies. Testaments to what humans can do when they embrace a positive goal.
It is my hope we come together and embrace each other and…
“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
On Christmas Eve, 1914, The Great War was still in its preliminary stages. Three more Christmas Eves and most of another year would pass before the guns of “The War to End All Wars” would fall silent in November of 1918.
Late in the evening on a dark and gloomy Christmas Eve 1914…in the dank, muddy trenches on the Western Front of the First World War, an odd occurrence happened, briefly peace broke out. It came to be called the Christmas Truce. It remains one of the most storied and strangest moments of the Great War—or of any war in history.
British troops had spent six months fighting the Germans. In a part of Belgium called Bois de Ploegsteert, the British who crouched in a trench that stretched just three feet deep by three feet wide heard German troops singing Christmas Carols.
In the darkness, some of the British soldiers began to sing back and before you say, “Dash away all”, German and British soldiers were meeting in the middle of no man’s land among the barbed wire and shell holes, not to kill each other, but for a moment, to share a bit of peace and good will toward men, even their enemies.
According to journals written on both sides, there were handshakes and words of kindness. The soldiers traded songs, tobacco, and wine, joining in a spontaneous holiday party in the chilly night. According to accounts, small trees were adorned with candles.
Other accounts tell that there were impromptu cease fires all along the front involving British, French, Belgian, and German troops. On the Eastern Front, Austrian, German, and Russian troops participated but on a smaller scale.
For six months the warring factions had experienced great hardships and tribulation. For a brief time, they put the death, mud, homesickness, and poor food behind them.
In a diary, British rifleman, J. Reading, wrote, “Later on in the day they came towards us, and our chaps went out to meet them…I shook hands with some of them, and they gave us cigarettes and cigars. We did not fire (a shot) that day, and everything was so quiet it seemed like a dream.”
Another British soldier, named John Ferguson, recalled it this way: “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!”
The strangest of the strange, a soccer ball appeared, and a soccer match involving hundreds began. German Lieutenant Kurt Zehmisch of the 134 Saxons Infantry, a schoolteacher who spoke both English and German, also described a pick-up soccer game in his diary. “Eventually the English brought a soccer ball from their trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued,” he wrote. “How marvelously wonderful, yet how strange it was. The English officers felt the same way about it. Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.”
Not everyone was happy. Both German and British High Command were horrified when the news of the truce found its way into the newspapers. Any further celebrations were banned, and the Christmas Truce of 1914 would not be repeated. Instead, armies would go about doing what they do best, killing themselves in horrific numbers. Some fifteen million would shed their life blood before the guns fell silent on November 11, 1918.
Unless you are involved or have family and friends involved, I think for our own sanity we see wars being fought with game pieces instead of flesh and bone human beings. The Christmas Truce of 1914 should remind us, war is not fought with “forces” but with humans. Christmas should remind us that we are all members of humanity, and that peace should reign. There is nothing humane about war.
To all who read this, and those that don’t. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Pray that those in places of power give peace a chance. Pray that we love and attempt to understand our fellow man. Tidings of peace and good will toward all men and women.
Thanks to the History Channel for providing most of my information and my images.
“Adulthood is like the vet, and we’re all the dogs that were excited for the car ride until we realized where we’re going.”Unknown
“If someone gave you a box that contained everything you had lost in your life, what would you look for first?”
What an interesting question. A plethora of pig trails to travel and rabbit holes to fall into. A bit of self-reflection? Let’s see where this goes.
My first thoughts were of lost loved ones. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, old friends. My first puppy dog, Caesar. Surely, I didn’t name him that. Did I? Everyone who would know is lost to the sands of time like him.
I’m not sure that was my first thought. I think just before thinking about lost loved ones I might have humorously thought, “My Mind.” Maybe not so humorously for someone who suffers from depression. I certainly haven’t lost any of “those” negative thoughts that usually come around this time of year. My thoughts can often be dark and gray…somewhat like the weather I’m experiencing presently. Yeah, I might look for my mind first.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. The Superman slingshot powered glider. Man could that thing fly. “Up, Up and Away” in my best George Reeves voice…right into the top of the persimmon tree never to be seen again. That might be the first time I experienced a real, gut-wrenching loss. I don’t guess it was lost; I imagine it was still in the tree when Hurricane Hugo took it and the tree to planet Krypton decades later.
My Captain Midnight Decoder Ring? How much Ovaltine did I have to drink to get one of those? I lost my college ring too. Drinking Ovaltine was much more fun than all the knowledge I drank up to earn the college ring.
Further ridiculousness, my virginity? Right. Truth be known I would have liked to have lost it sooner rather than when I did. Yes, lose my virginity sooner and my hair later.
Lost opportunities. Wow, those are too numerous to list. Every time I turn around in my mind, I run smack into one. Other times they form a chorus in my head. So much discord.
Okay, I’ve figured it out. I knew my pig trails would lead somewhere. “Taaa, taaa, ta, taaa!” My childhood. The first thing I would look for would be my childhood. Those wonderful years between my first awareness that I was a living person and my teenage years when my brain function flatlined. The years when we thought we were Peter Pan before Captain Hook showed us differently. When Decoder Rings meant something…well before the college ring and the sheepskin that went with it.
Those early years when the worst thing facing me was cutting the front yard or hoeing out row centers in the garden. When an eight-ounce Coke and a bag of Lance peanuts were the nectar of the gods and cartoons were still broadcast on Saturday mornings. Along with Sky King, Roy Rogers, and The Lone Ranger of course. Those years when a Schwinn Torpedo would take you anywhere you needed to go.
Chores completed, there were late afternoon trips to the river and the ponds around us. Fresh caught fish breaded in cornbread and onion hush puppies frying in Crisco and bacon grease. A time when I had never heard the word cholesterol much less worried about it.
I mean, there were responsibilities…you didn’t grow up around a farm without responsibilities, but many of them didn’t feel like responsibilities and there was still time to play lawman and desperado using corn cobs as weapons. When it was still okay to play Cowboys and Indians or War. ..little plastic soldier giving their all to defend the American way.
Pick up baseball games in the backyard. Football games on Sunday after church in the front yard. When you didn’t know that childhood would end.
Yeah, I’d look for my childhood first thing because if I were to find my childhood, I would find all those meaningful things I have lost and lose all those nasty responsibilities and the baggage I have toted around since I recovered from my brain-dead teenage years.
Adulthood is never what you thought it would be, and Peter Pan had the right idea. “Never grow up, it is a trap.”
“Adulthood is like looking both ways before you cross the street and then getting hit by an airplane.”–Unknown