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Historynotes Re: RSVP: The question of Africans celebrating European holidays

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  • Barbea Williams
    I feel so isolated here in Tucson, Az., this is a blessing to have this information and informative feedback. Sister Barbea ... eGroup home:
    Message 1 of 12 , Jan 2, 1999
      I feel so isolated here in Tucson, Az., this is a blessing to have this
      information and informative feedback.

      Sister Barbea

      eGroup home: http://www.eGroups.com/list/historynotes
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    • Abdul-M Aquil
      The following is for your consumption Christmas by Kevin Courcey ... a ... hosts ... day ... the ... century ... fore ... to ... play ... Christ ... on ...
      Message 2 of 12 , Jan 2, 1999
        The following is for your consumption

        by Kevin Courcey
        > The festival now called Christmas is far older than Christianity. It is
        >relic of sun-worship. It is the day on which the sun triumphs over the
        >of darkness; and thousands of years before the republic of Rome existed,
        >before one stone of Athens was laid, before the Pharaohs ruled in Egypt,
        >before the religion of Brahma, before Sanskrit was spoken, men and women
        >crawled out of their caves, pushed the matted hair from their eyes, and
        >greeted the triumph of the sun over the powers of the night. The ancient
        >Vikings and Druids would actually build huge bonfires on hilltops the night

        >of the solstice in order to give the sun just enough of a boost to help it
        >stay up a little longer the next day. Later, this rebirth of the sun was
        >celebrated through the myths of the sun-gods, who were, like the sun the
        >after the solstice, metaphorically raised from the dead.
        > The major festival in ancient Rome was called the "Saturnalia," and it
        >centered around the winter solstice. When the Julian calendar was first
        >devised, the solstice fell on December 21st. However, due to an error in
        >calender (it was off by 6 hours and 11 minutes a year), by the third
        >the solstice had crept forward to December 24th. At this time, the Emperor

        >Aurelian established an official holiday (the festival of the "unconquered
        >sun") on December 25, in honor of the a Syrian sun god, "Sol." This
        >established December 25th as the official solstice, and all other religions

        >which worshipped sun gods also accepted December 25th as the fixed date
        >their celebrations. By the fourth century, many Christians were referring
        >this festival as the holiday of the "unconquered s-o-n," a fairly clever
        >on words; and by 350 a.d., Pope Julius I decreed that the nativity of
        >should be celebrated on the same day as all the other sun gods, namely,
        >December 25th. Some of the other sun gods whose birthdays were celebrated
        >December 25th were Marduk, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Mithra, Saturn, Sol,
        >Serapis, and Huitzilopochli.
        > If you were to wander around ancient Rome on December 24, a few years
        >before the reported birth of Christ, you would find much merriment and
        >celebrating. In an underground temple outside the city, you would find the

        >birth of the sun-god Mithra being celebrated. At midnight, the first
        >of December 25, the temple of Mithra would be lit up with candles, incense
        >would be burning, and priests in white garments would be reciting the
        >of Mithra. They would tell the faithful of how Mithra killed a cosmic
        >bull. When he did so, the bull became the moon, Mithra's cloak became the
        >night sky and stars, and the blood of the bull gave birth to all life on
        > After the creation, Mithra retired to heaven, until he returned to act
        >savior to all mankind. You would hear the story of how a star fell from
        >sky when Mithra was born, how shepherds witnessed the birth, and how
        >Zoroastrian priests called Magi followed the fallen star to worship him,
        >how they brought crowns of gold to the newborn "King of Kings."
        > In another section of the city, the Egyptians would be celebrating the
        >birthday of their god Horus. They would recite the story of how Horus was
        >born of a virgin in a stable on December 25, and how the priests would have

        >reconstructed this manger scene in their temple, with the baby Horus lying
        >the manger with his virgin mother, Isis, standing beside him. Of course
        >Magi would also be shown to be in attendance at the birth. The priests
        >tell the life story of Horus; how he would go onto perform many miracles,
        >such as walking on water and casting out demons; how he would be betrayed
        >one of his own, tried before an emperor, and crucified to atone for the
        >of man, finally to be resurrected from the dead.
        > So, when you hear someone say, "we ought to get back to the TRUE MEANING

        >of Christmas," explain to them that the original meaning is a pagan
        >celebration of nature, or the rebirth of the sun. Remind them that for
        >than 4,000 years, this has been a time of feasting, visiting with relatives

        >and friends, and gift giving. We are simply celebrating the most precious
        >gift we could possibly have on this planet -- the gift of warmth and


        Newsletter: 1998: December 1998

        This story was written by James Still. Ho! Ho! Ho!]

        The Origin of Santa Claus

        That jolly old elf gracing the masthead this issue looks nothing like the
        historical Saint Nicholas, the bishop of Myra whose life first gave
        to the myth we have today. We know very little about Bishop Nicholas, save
        for the church legends that grew up after his death in 350 CE. We're not
        even sure if there was a real Nicholas. Barbara Walker argues in her book
        The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets (HarperSanFrancisco, 1983)
        that Bishop Nicholas was a Christianized fiction who replaced the pagan
        Artemis and Poseidon. Given the stories told about him by the early
        this might very well be the case. Nicholas was said to have calmed violent
        storms, cured diseases, and resurrected the dead.

        According to church tradition, Nicholas traveled extensively in his own
        Greek region of Myra (present-day Turkey) as well as in Syria, Palestine,
        and Egypt. He earned a reputation for being extraordinarily kind to
        children. Other legends told the story of how he gave an impoverished
        gold coins to prevent him from selling his three young daughters into
        slavery. Various versions of the legend suggest that Bishop Nicholas
        the coins into an open window while another variation says that he threw
        them down the chimney to preserve his anonymity. Imprisoned as a martyr
        sometime during Emperor Diocletian's rule, he was later released when
        Constantine instituted the new pogrom of tolerance toward Christians.
        Nicholas participated in the Council of Nicaea (325 CE) and helped to
        the creed that confessed the historical Jesus as a divine god. Little did
        Nicholas realize at the time that he was himself to become immortal
        alongside Jesus as well.

        An anonymous 11th century medieval manuscript The Translation of Saint
        Nicholas, tells a tale of how the church in Bari, Italy decided to send a
        ship to Myra to exume the relics and bones of Saint Nicholas for
        redeposition in their city. After meeting initial fierce resistance from
        guardian monks, one of the monks tells the others that he experienced a
        vision from the Saint in which the Saint assents to the relocation. After
        the tale, the monks allowed the sailors to take the Saint's remains. Thus,
        the remains of Nicholas (or probably some unknown crusader) were brought
        back from Myra in 1087 and installed in the church at Bari. The story also
        tells of the epiphany of a sea gull whose appearance from heaven blessed
        ship carrying the Saint's remains, thus signifying divine approval of the
        enterprise. Once interned at Bari, and after several visions, appearances,
        and healings among the people, Saint Nicholas become known as the
        of children and widows. What this fanciful tale omits, however, is that
        Nicholas's cult replaced an older goddess cult in Bari after Befana
        Epiphania) or "The Grandmother." Walker describes her as "a female
        boon-giving deity" that "used to fill the children's stockings with her
        gifts." The cult that spread rapidly around Nicholas/Befana culminated in
        pageant on December 6th of every year. Drawing upon the stories of his
        kindness to children and the giving of gold coins, followers gave each
        gifts in honor of the Saint.

        The Church eventually moved the pageant of Saint Nicholas to the winter
        solstice (the final day of the ancient Roman Saturnalia festival, now
        December 25th) to merge it with the celebration of Christ's birth. Before
        became attached to Christ's birth, December 25th was the Mithraic
        winter-solstice festival called Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, Birthday of
        Unconquered Sun. Mithras was known as the Light of the World, Sun of
        Righteousness, and Savior. The divine child symbology (as the sun) was
        celebrated on the winter solstice, the darkest days of winter where the
        sun's rebirth would lead to longer days and spring.

        Nicholas's cult was gradually combined with German and Celtic pagan Yule
        rites to produce a Christianized "Father Christmas," a somber figure
        to the twinkling elf we know today. Father Christmas was traditionally
        bearded, wore a thick coat of furs, and rode a horse. Pagan celebrants
        lighted candles in trees and decorated their homes with ivy, pine, and
        holly. Mummers danced and small troupes traveled from house to house
        carols. The Yule rite of dragging a log through the streets represented
        phallus, Walker writes, and invokes fertility magic associated with the
        of Frey. When pagans were Christianized by the Church, Frey would be
        to Kris Kringle, ("Christ of the Orb"), i.e., the reborn divine child of
        earlier Mithras cult.

        Americans will come to see Father Christmas as riding a reindeer. In the
        nineteenth-century, Saint Nicholas rides a sleigh pulled by a team of
        reindeers. Now Santa Claus, that jolly old man with a pipe, is immortal.
        lives at the North Pole among elves and continues to respond to greedy
        little urchinsÝ all over the world on Christmas Eve. Unlike the Christ
        story, however, children usually outgrow this evolving bundle of myths.

        To this day Saint Nicholas's cult competes alongside Christ on the same
        holiday in a strange mixture of commercialization, paganism, excess and
        reverence. This has led some Christians in recent years to proclaim the
        slogan, "Jesus is the reason for the season." However, the prior enduring
        history of Santa Claus, Mithras, Yule, and The Grandmother, prove that
        slogan is quite incorrect. Jesus has been clumsily papered on top of
        rituals and the fact that these rituals cannot be contained and often
        overshadow the Christian cult reveal the tremendous power that these older
        myths still possess.

        [This story was written by James Still. Ho! Ho! Ho!]


        Should Blacks celebrate Misgiving Day?

        By Dr. Jack Felder

        July 30, 1621, was the day set aside for the celebration of the survival
        of the English colonialists through the first bitter winter that
        destroyed more than half their numbers. In the autumn of 1621, Governor
        Bradford of Massachusetts issued a proclamation calling for a
        Thanksgiving Celebration Feast to commemorate the gathering of the first
        harvest. This celebration lasted three days, during which time the
        half-starved white English Pilgrims and the Indians feasted on wild
        turkey and deer (venison). The Indians, of course, supplied the turkey
        and venison.

        African American people and African people in general either tend to
        forget or don¢t want to remember the true history of their encounter with
        white western people. African American people have been in these United
        States since 1619. They have been joining with the descendants of the
        same white western European murderers who enslaved them and
        systematically all but destroyed the Native Americans (called Indians) in
        feasting and giving thanks to the god of the white western world for the
        "opportunity" to have been enslaved, segregated, discriminated against,
        lynched, murdered, assassinated and raped in these United States of

        Black people celebrating Thanksgiving Day is like the white European
        Americans celebrating the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Jews celebrating
        Hitler¢s birthday or the Black South Africans celebrating the anniversary
        of the arrival of the white racist ruling class to their native land.
        Several years ago some white officials of New York State invited Indians
        to a big Thanksgiving dinner. The Indians said, "Hell, no! That would be
        like our °Last Supper.¢"

        Let us look at the actual facts of the white English settlers¢ attempts
        to establish money-making enterprises on the continent of North America.
        Many educated Blacks are not aware that English people had made three
        attempts in North America before the November, 1620 landing of the
        English Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock in what is now Massachusetts.

        The first attempts by the English to set up colonies in the New World
        were made by Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh. Gilbert started
        a colony in New Foundland, but it failed because of cold weather, hunger,
        and sickness. Raleigh made two attempts to start settlements on Roanoke
        Island near the coast of what is now North Carolina. The first attempt in
        1585 did not succeed. The group returned to England. In the second
        attempt to start the colony in 1587, the group was exterminated by the
        local Indians. It seems as if the Indians in North Carolina had better
        sense than the Indians in Virginia or Massachusetts.

        The London Company sent the first group of white English profit-seeking
        colonists in December, 1606. They brought with them tools, cloth and
        household goods. Their charter allowed them to settle in somebody else¢s
        country, what is now Virginia and North Carolina. In April 1607, they
        entered Chesapeake Bay. A few days later they found a river that they
        named the James after their ruler King James. They set foot on a small
        peninsula and formed the first permanent white English settlement in
        America. Located in the area now known as Virginia, the new settlement
        was named Jamestown. These white greedy English colonists suffered
        terribly for the first few years. If the native American Indians had not
        helped them, all would have perished.

        Listen to this Black America. This is how you got into these United
        States of AmeriKKa. The lazy white English settlers didn¢t want to work,
        so they imported Black African slaves to work as free labor. They made
        contact with the Dutch slave traders and in 1619, a Dutch ship brought 20
        Africans to Jamestown, Va. This was the beginning of the Black African
        people¢s never-ending racial nightmare in present day U.S.A. Yes, my
        people, the Black African people¢s Day of Infamy in the U.S.A. was in
        August, 1619 in Jamestown, Va. It is a day you should never forget!

        The Pilgrims didn¢t want religious freedom, they wanted wealth. The white
        English capitalists who had created the Virginia Company for exploiting
        the wealth of the New World made them an offer they could not refuse.
        This information is available in British historical documents. The
        Virginia Company gave white English pilgrims ships and supplies. In
        return for this help, the Pilgrims sent crops, animal skins and furs to
        the company as well as any gold they were able to find. The white English
        colonists came to America because of greed, not religious needs.

        In September 1620, the crew and 101 passengers set sail for America in a
        little ship called the Mayflower. Everybody had "gold fever." It took ten
        weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean in their little boat. Heavy storms
        drove the Mayflower off its course. The winds carried them far north of
        the Virginia settlement. In November 1620, the Pilgrims landed at
        Plymouth Rock, in what is now Massachusetts. When the English Puritans
        saw that the original English Pilgrims started to make a little money
        from the products they were sending back to England to sell, the Puritans
        formed a stock company called Massachusetts Bay Company. The company
        would supply ships and any goods needed to build settlements. The
        Puritans could look for gold, fish, trade with the American Indians and
        send valuable things back to England to make money for them.

        In 1628 the first group of these Puritans came to the New World to
        establish their own colony to make money. In Massachusetts they began a
        settlement, which they called Salem.

        Pilgrim cannibalism

        Captain John Smith (1580-1631) wrote, "So great was our famine that a
        savage we slew and buried, the poorer sort took him up again and ate him;
        And one amongst the rest did kill his wife, powder her and had eaten part
        of her."

        The General History of Virginia, Fourth Book, Page 294 (1606-1625)

        Lazy Pilgrims steal from the Indians

        The Indian to whom hospitality was a creed welcomed the whites at first
        but soon found that they had but one idea loot. One of the first acts of
        the Pilgrim fathers on touching American soil was to steal from them.
        These "savages," as they called them, had no rights that a Christian
        European was bound to respect. The General History of Virginia, Fourth
        Book, Page 346 (1606-1625)

        Europe empties its jails into the new world

        If the English colonies were to be peopled, how could it be? Stockholders
        in the Virginia venture found the answer: use it as a place of
        punishment. Ship the convicts and others of England¢s unwanted there.
        Virginia Company logs

        England ships its whores and harlots to the new world. (Mothers of the
        American Revolution)

        It cannot be denied either that deportation to America was England¢s
        favorite way of getting rid of her loose women, doubtedly this kind.
        Narcissus doubted this kind. Narcissus Luttrell, writing in his diary
        Thursday, Nov. 17, 1662, tells of 80 such women being sent to Virginia.
        Narcissus Luttrell¢s Diary

        The first 12 presidents owned Black slaves

        Wall Street was a walled off slave market, which is why it was called
        Wall Street. The first president of the U.S., George Washington, owned
        more than 400 Black slaves. To learn a true history of the U.S.A., read A
        Peoples¢ History of the United States by Howard Zinn. The Revolution Book
        Store in Lower Manhattan and Liberation Book Store located at Lenox
        Avenue and 131st St. in Harlem sell this book. Also read Afrikan People
        and White Western European People Holidays: A Mental Genocide by Rev.
        Ishakamusa Barashango, which is sold in most Black book stores.

        To discover more about these and other historical facts, my people, read
        books, newspapers, travel and ask questions important to your well being.
        Best of luck to all of you.


        The Ghosts of Christmas Past

        The celebration of Christmas has never been the same for Blacks and
        Whites, has never been in harmony with the actual birth of Jesus and was
        used as a method to keep Blacks enslaved on Southern Plantations.

        Almost every agricultural community engaged in some sort of festive
        celebration toward the end of each year. Most were related to the period
        of leisure and abundance following the harvesting of crops around late
        December. All around the world all communities gathered to thank the
        Creator for the abundant bounty in celebrations before Winter set in.
        Europe’s Christian leaders were trying to instill Christian principles
        into the peasantry and bargained a religious component–the birth of
        Christ–into their already established winter solstice celebrations.
        This, they hoped, would aid in the transition they envisioned from
        Paganism to Christianity even though they were well aware of the fact
        that Jesus was not born anywhere near the 25th of December. This scheme
        hatched by Europe’s clergy inspired the celebrations of gluttony we now
        call Christmas.
        In European Christian tradition St. Nicholas occupied several lofty
        positions. He was patron saint of school children, shipping and pawn
        brokers, probably among other titles. Born in the fourth century in what
        is now Turkey, as a newborn, he was reputed to have “stood upright in
        his first bath.” Despite his now reformed image, a macabre folklore
        developed around St. Nicholas which included a story that he revived
        three dismembered children. As the story goes, an innkeeper killed the
        boys, cut up their bodies, and hid the pieces in barrels used for
        salting meat, intending to sell them as pickled pork. Nicholas happened
        upon the scene, sensed the crime and reassembled the bodies from the
        Blacks entered into the celebration of Christmas within this European
        folklore. Saint Nicholas’ function in the church was to judge good and
        evil in children. He would visit children and quiz them on church
        lessons, rewarding them with candy, gifts, or chastising with sticks or
        pieces of coal. According to legend relayed to us by author Phyllis
        Siefker, in her book Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men (1997), he was
        accompanied by a servant named “Black Pete,” a “hairy, chained, horned,
        blackened, devilish monster....clutching a gaping sack in his hairy
        claws.” Black Pete’s job was to glare at the children while the saint
        drilled the youths in Christian verse. Every now and then Black Pete
        “flashed his enormous canines and leaped, growling, toward the
        frightened children, threatening to beat them with his rod.” Nicholas
        warned the bad children that Black Pete would stuff transgressors into
        his sack only to be released at the next Christmas.
        Local traditions shaped St. Nicholas from this fear-inspiring overlord
        to a magnanimous bearer of gifts. But the practice of giving gifts in
        the name of Saint Nicholas was frowned upon by cleric Martin Luther who
        then introduced Christkindlein—a messenger of Christ—as the
        gift-bringer. Through mispronunciation, Christkindlein came to be known
        as Kris Kringle.
        Though Black Pete didn’t make the trans-Atlantic crossing to the “New
        World,” his boss St. Nicholas and Kris Kringle did. It is commonly
        believed that Santa Claus (a mispronunciation of St. Nicholas), reached
        America in Dutch form, a less daunting figure laden with gifts for the
        good. But other Christmas practices and customs did immigrate with the
        Europeans. Colonial Massachusetts Puritan Cotton Mather put it this way
        in 1712: “[T]he Feast of Christ’s Nativity is spent in Reveling, Dicing,
        Carding, Masking, and in all Licentious Liberty...by Mad Mirth, by long
        Eating, by hard Drinking, by lewd Gaming, by rude Reveling...”
        Often people blackened their faces or disguised themselves as animals or
        cross-dressed, presumably to maintain anonymity for much ruder acts.
        Similar accounts of the early Christmases abound. Reverend Henry Bourne
        decried the transvestitism, the “Uncleanness and Debauchery,” as well as
        rampant unlawful fornication or “chambering.” Indeed, there was a marked
        increase in the number of births in the months of September and
        October—meaning that sexual activity peaked during the Christmas season.
        Ultimately, the Puritans of early Massachusetts were not so eager to
        make bargains with the Birth of Jesus no matter what the motivations of
        the Church were. They actually outlawed the celebration of Christmas in
        the settlement in 1659 and fined those who skipped work or celebrated in
        any way 5 shillings. They also outlawed the days Thursday and Saturday
        (the names, that is), because of their pagan origins: Thursday meaning
        “Thors” day, and Saturday, “Saturn’s day.” The holiday was reinstated in
        1681 but not before it was roundly condemned as blasphemous and
        far-removed from the way of Jesus.

        The Plantation South had its own reasons for promoting the Christmas
        myth. Slavery came under attack from abolitionists of various
        motivations. The grand vision of the idyllic garden with the happy
        slaves was developed in response to this movement and Christmas became
        central to this myth.
        The reality faced daily by the enslaved Blacks contrasted sharply with
        this account. Traditionally, Christmas was a time when planters recorded
        their year’s profits and losses and hired or leased out slaves for the
        next year. As in other agricultural economies, this is also when the end
        of harvesting idled the workers. The brutality of the planters
        temporarily receded and the Black slaves came to regard these times as
        their only respite from the grueling plantation life.
        In many places throughout the South they created their own distinctive
        traditions known by various related names including John Canoeing, John
        Kunering, Koonering, or other related terms. The festivities included
        singing, socializing, dancing, feasting, and dressing up in White man’s
        cast-off clothes. The permission granted Blacks for this annual
        merrymaking had more devious designs, according to former slaves
        Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Fearful of insurrection and
        discontent, the planters often forced the slaves to drink heavily during
        Christmas in maintenance of a drunken stupor. Recalled Douglass, “not to
        be drunk during the holidays was disgraceful.”
        Said one Georgia observer: “It would make a northern abolitionist change
        his sentiments in reference to slavery could he see as I have seen the
        jollity & mirth of the black population during the Christmas holidays.
        Never have I seen any class of people who appeared to enjoy more than do
        these negroes....”
        The expectation of gifts or rewards on Christmas led to a crisis after
        the Civil War when it was believed that the 40 acres and a mule would be
        distributed among the “x-slaves” on Christmas Day. Gen. O.O. Howard
        (for whom Howard University is named) had to mount an effort to dispel
        this notion among the Blacks of the South. His officers of the
        Freedman’s Bureau ordered Blacks not to expect anything on Christmas and
        to instead make a work contract with their former masters. Nothing was
        to change on that Christmas or any other.

        Just as the early Christian leaders bargained with the truth of the
        birth of Christ, the burgeoning merchant class in America positioned
        themselves to make Christmas a bonanza of mass marketing, consumption
        and boundless profits. Shortly after the Civil War, numerous other
        department stores began to heavily promote Christmas gifts. Between 1880
        and 1920, advertisers began to encourage the purchase of manufactured
        gifts instead of home-made gifts. Wrapping paper was introduced and the
        ritual of removing price tags became a common rituals. Christmas bonuses
        ‘Christmas Club’ bank accounts all promoted Christmas as the season of
        boundless spending. To ease the crassness of the hard-sell season, in
        1898 a Philadelphia department store used a nearly life-size model of a
        church complete with a performing choir and organ to sell their wares,
        thus integrating two opposite values toward one lofty goal – Christmas
        Today, there are few remaining traces of holiness in this rudely
        American custom of Christmas. Black people never truly accepted the
        contrived Christian element in this crass celebration of mass
        consumption. The Master Teacher Jesus has been removed and His gifts to
        humanity have been bargained away to the shrine of unrestrained

        Dr. Tingba Apidta


        A Jegna Report
        ³Among the East African Amhara people the Jegna are those elders who,
        after being tested in battle, are dedicated to the defense of our
        children, our culture, and our land.² Dr.Wade Nobles,1995

        Just What Do Black People Celebrate ?

        The end of the year 1997 has occurred and a new one, 1998, has begun
        according to the Gregorian calendar (conscious African people recognize
        themselves as being in their year 6237 sm or 6237 years after the
        founding of Kemet [Egypt]). In the past weeks we found several religions
        and cultures in the height of their major holiday (Holy Day)
        celebrations. In ancient times holy day celebrations and observances
        coincided with regular, natural, and celestial phenomena. This was done
        to reckon earthly activities with that of celestial and natural events
        for certainly this would place one in synchrony with gods creation and in
        turn receive the blessings that come with such sympathetic behavior. So,
        it is not surprising to find so many holidays occurring in close
        proximity to December 21, the winter solstice, the first day of winter
        in the northern hemisphere, and the day with the shortest amount of
        daylight and longest amount of night. The Kemites (Egyptian) birth of
        Heru (Horus), the birth of the Sun, the Roman celebration of Saturnalia,
        the Jewish Hanukkah, the Christians Christmas (Birth of Jesus the
        Christ), and now the African American cultural celebration of Kwanzaa
        have all followed this tradition. Indeed there is historical
        significance for all of these groups positing their major celebrations at
        this time of year.
        Though these holidays occur around the same time they all maintain a
        cultural uniqueness. Holiday observances, as such, are reaffirmations of
        cultural and religious values, principals, and practices. So, we find in
        Hanukkah a ritualization of Jewish religious values, in Christmas a focus
        on the ethical values of Christianity¹s major religious personality
        (Jesus the Christ) has diminished to an orgy of crass commercialism, and
        the newest holiday, Kwanzaa, is said to be solely a celebration of the
        best of African family and culture.
        It is Black people however, and their celebration of the religious
        holiday and birthday observation of Jesus the Christ that is most
        confusing. What Black people seem to embrace in their celebration of
        Christmas is more a celebration of European culture than a celebration of
        the birth and life of Jesus the Christ. All cultures seem to draw their
        holiday icons from their environment. We find this convention holds true
        with Europeans and their celebration of Christmas and the time of year in
        which it occurs. The icons of significance to the Jewish history and
        experience are found throughout their Hanukkah observances. However the
        pathological legacy of slavery is made manifest in African people when we
        find, in their celebration of a religious holiday, a wholesale embracing
        of the icons unique to the European experience. Though this may be fine
        for Europeans, it can be problematic for African people. What do snow,
        sleigh bells, reindeer, holly, mistletoe, yule logs, chimneys, Christmas
        lights, decorated evergreen trees (cut down and caused to die), fables of
        jolly old men (Santa Clause) who started out as an antagonist of
        children, but has now become someone through which European values are
        transmitted to their youth, have to do with African people, their
        experiences, or the values they need to transmit to their children ?
        Many African people even express feeling a lack of ³the Christmas spirit²
        when the icons that are unique to European cultural holiday expressions
        are absent. It appears that African people make more than a close
        association between the celebration of European culture and the
        celebration of Christmas. One is not necessary to recognize the other.
        Our association of one with the other has more to do with our legacy of
        enslavement than any other reason. Additionally, European cultural
        hegemony has caused much of the world to make this same association and
        by extension Christmas is seen, by many, as the most European of
        African people under conditions of enslavement embraced any day that
        their oppressors relented and did not compel them to endure inhumane
        conditions. Thus, Black peoples introduction to the birthday of Jesus
        the Christ, as a holiday celebration, can be traced to this relationship.
        A 1882 speech by Frederick Douglas illustrates his experiences as an
        enslaved African during the Christmas season.

        ³The days between Christmas and New Year¹s were allowed the slaves as
        holidays. During these days all regular work was suspended, and there
        was nothing to do but keep fires and look after stock. We regarded this
        time as our own by the grace of our masters, and we, therefore, used it
        or abused it as we pleased. The holidays were variously spent. The
        sober, industrious ones employ themselves in manufacturing cornbrooms,
        mats, horse collars and baskets, and some of these were very well made.
        Another class spent their time in hunting oppossums, coons, rabbits, and
        other game. But the majority spent the holidays in sports, ball-playing,
        wrestling, boxing, running, foot-races, dancing and drinking whiskey, and
        the latter mode was generally most agreeable to their masters. A Slave
        who would work during the holidays was thought by his master undeserving
        of holidays. There was in this simple act of continued work an
        accusation against slaves, and a slave could not help thinking that if he
        made three dollars during the holidays he might make three hundred during
        the year. ³Not to be drunk during the holidays was disgraceful.²
        We were induced to drink, I among the rest, and when the holidays were
        over we all staggered up from our filth and wallowing, took a long breath
        and went away to our various fields of work, feeling upon the whole,
        rather glad to go from that which our masters had artfully deceived us
        into the belief was freedom, back again to the arms of slavery. It was
        not what we had taken it to be, nor what it would have been, had it not
        been abused by us. It was about as well to be a slave to master, as to
        be a slave to whiskey and rum. When the slave was drunk the slaveholder
        had no fear that he would escape to the North. It was the sober,
        thoughtful slave who was dangerous and needed the vigiliance of his
        master to keep him a slave.²

        When we as African recognize the history of our relationship with the
        oppressive European, we can begin the process of dressing our holiday
        celebrations with clothing from the closet of our rich African culture.
        Christmas trees with Kente ornaments and black Santa Clauses are
        inappropriate. It is not enough to take something that is fundamentally
        European and put a Black face on it. We must draw from the deep well of
        our rich legacy, stories, and folklore of our people to create
        mythologies and vehicles by which we can transmit our rich African values
        to our children. The folklore of cultural others are inadequate to
        transmit African values to our children. So, celebrate the birth of
        Jesus the Christ, if you must, but do so from an African cultural center.

        ³The the masters tools will never dismantle the masters house.²

        Abdul-M. Aquil (Kwesi Ohene) is the Midwest Region President of ASCAC
        The Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations
        E-mail - heruseye@...

        President, Midwest Region
        Association For The Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC)

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      • Abdul-M Aquil
        We should celebrate no european holidays nor even their calendar, African people should celebrate their own holidays within the context of their calendar year
        Message 3 of 12 , Jan 2, 1999
          We should celebrate no european holidays nor even their calendar,
          African people should celebrate their own holidays within the context of
          their calendar year which is based on the solar calendar established by
          the Kemites over six thousand years ago. According to this reconning
          African people are in the year 6238sm (SM = after the unification of
          upper and lower Kemit by Ah Ha or Narmer in approx 4240/41 BC). This
          gives us the longest continuous history of any one on the planet.

          An examination of Kwanzaa should be made by all who embrace it to
          determine if it's principles and integrity have a value that exceeds that
          of its creator. Certainly, if it is functioning as means of establishing
          cultural integrity and unity then we should keep it regardless of the
          history of it's creator.


          It has been said, and I concur, that culture is the most potent
          element of a peoples existence. It is the adhesive that binds a group
          together. It is through culture that we realize immortality. Culture
          extends blood ties and creates family of unimaginable proportions.
          Culture, once established must be maintained. Historical events that
          impact a cultures existence are recorded for future generations to have
          an accessible record of those events that have affected the culture.
          Though history books provide the most detailed sequence of events that
          form and impact a culture, calendars give us an "at a glance" record of
          those same crucial occurrences within a cultures collective experience.

          Not only have Afrikan people been subject to physical colonization,
          they have been equally subjected to mental colonization. This mental
          colonization has been brought about by manipulation of information and
          through religious and cultural domination. The mental colonization of the
          Afrikan in America has been so thorough that we take certain information
          for granted and assume that all information provided for us by the
          dominant culture is true and in our best interest. We must ask ourselves,
          "Will the culture that has been responsible for our domination and
          oppression provide us with the information necessary for self
          liberation?". I feel that the overwhelming response to that question by a
          conscious people will be "NO". Given that, the responsibility for ones
          liberation lies with the self.

          The spirit of Kujichagulia has guided me to see that Afrikan people,
          as a means of self determination and cultural autonomy, need to have
          their own time reckoning system (calendar). Research and history has
          revealed that Afrikan people indeed have their own time reckoning system.
          It was the Nile Valley Afrikan that gave the world its first time keeping
          systems (calendars). Beginning with the stellar, a star based calendar,
          and then the lunar, based upon the cycle of the moon, and finally the
          solar, based upon the earths revolution around the sun, the Nile Valley
          Afrikan has clearly demonstrated his abilities to observe and develop
          accurate time reckoning systems. The accuracy of the calendar invented by
          Nile Valley Afrikans has not been improved by europeans or any other
          people. However, that same Afrikan calendar has been manipulated by
          europeans for less than noble, political, religious, and egomaniacal
          reasons. It is known that Roman emperors added days and changed the names
          of months to satisfy their egos. Why is December, once the tenth month as
          indicated by the prefix dec, now the twelfth month? Religious officials
          have been known to extend or shorten months for political reasons such as
          affecting the term of a governor or causing them to gain or lose taxes
          based on the length of the year they determined. Do we want to continue
          to use a calendar that has been manipulated for reasons that are of no
          relevance to Afrikan people?

          The "Kemetic Kalendar" is a solar calendar based upon that same
          calendar invented over 6,000 years ago by Nile Valley Afrikans and upon
          which the present Gregorian calendar is based. The Kemetic year begins
          with the heliacal rising of the star Sirius as it occurs in Kemet. This
          day the, first day of the month of Meso Ra (August 2nd according to the
          Gregorian calendar), is the beginning of the Afrikan year. The adoption
          of an Afrikan cultural calendar, cultural based holidays, self chosen
          heroes, and the recognition of the beginning of the Afrikan New Year as
          not being the same as the european cultural/religious new year, is
          another step on the road to liberation. Some may consider it a small step
          but it is a step. Let us not get caught up in the hype, anticipation, and
          anxiety associated with moving into the 21st century for to do so would
          be almost like celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Columbus Voyage
          of Exploration. So I appeal to all culturally conscious Afrikans to adopt
          this, the only true, Afrikan cultural calendar and lets take one unified
          step into the future with the celebration of the Afrikan New Year on Meso
          Ra 1, 6238 (August 2, 1998). Independent and culturally autonomous
          Afrikans who adopt the "Kemetic Kalendar" recognize being in the 63rd
          century which is reflective of our antiquity.


          President, Midwest Region
          Association For The Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC)

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