In the midst of the holiday rush, where a moment of rest becomes a rare gem, do you ever catch yourself craving a little something more? Something more intentional than gift-giving that simply checks someone off your list?
A deeper look at Kwanzaa may be the much-needed answer to finding meaning amidst the holiday hustle. It’s a dynamic philosophy rooted in rich African culture and is a guiding star that shines brightly across all ethnic backgrounds. At the heart of Kwanzaa are seven principles, also known as Nguzo Saba, which serve as a compass pointing towards a more fulfilling way of life. These principles intricately shape personal well-being, strengthen familial ties, and nurture community development.
But there’s an extra layer to this holiday magic! Drawing from my experiences as a Black physician, I understand how these principles hold the potential to transform not only the holiday season but how it’s also a way to give yourself gifts that cultivate a healthier and more beautifully confident you.
The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa
As the holiday season unfolds, families and friends come together each evening of Kwanzaa to exchange Zawadi (gifts) and light the candles in the Kinara—a special candle holder with a central black candle, accompanied by three red candles on the left and three green candles on the right. These candles aren’t mere decor—they’re visual storytellers of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
As the center black candle flickers to life, embrace the heartwarming essence of togetherness, fostering unity within your family, community, nation, and race.
Health Tip: Embrace the day with a 10-15 minute mindfulness practice—meditation, yoga, or journaling—for mental clarity and emotional harmony. Add an extra boost of positive energy and a profound sense of self-unity with a tea or coffee meditation. Best of all … this gift won’t cost you a penny.
Beauty Tip: In the spirit of togetherness and resourcefulness, purchase multi-purpose beauty products to save time and reduce waste. Shop for items like tinted moisturizers or lipstick that can double as blush (genius!), creating a seamless beauty regimen that allows you to radiate from the inside out.
With the black candle and the far-left red candle glowing brilliantly, embrace the empowering role as the narrator of your life. Express your truth and chart your path, rather than allowing others to dictate your narrative.
Health Tip: During the holiday season and every day, deliberately set boundaries. Define your mental limits, align with your narrative, and say no intentional to protect emotional energy and maintain inner peace. Boundary-setting is foundational for affirming your truth.
Beauty Tip: Let your uniqueness shine with a one-of-a-kind look—be it a festive hat, vibrant scarf, the sparkle of statement jewelry, the cheer of bold hues, or the flair of holiday-inspired beauty colors. Celebrate your distinct self, embodying the essence of self-determination.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Let the radiance of the black candle and the two far-left red candles herald a spirited call to action—Harambee (let’s work together)! In the face of challenges, stand united, rejoicing in triumphs as a community. This guiding principle reminds us that our personal well-being is closely tied to the well-being of our community.
Health Tip: Elevate the spirit of Ujima by diving into group fitness activities like invigorating spinning or Zumba classes. Alternatively, become a driving force behind local health awareness campaigns, amplifying your shared commitment to well-being. Through these collective efforts, you’ll also forge stronger community bonds, creating a ripple effect of positive change.
Beauty Tip: Choose skincare and cosmetic brands like BLK+ GRN and Pat McGrath Labs that champion eco-friendly packaging, cruelty-free testing, and responsibly sourced ingredients. By aligning with these brands, you not only look your best and embody the principles of this special season, but also contribute to a healthier planet for all.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
As the black candle gleams, followed by the three red candles from left to right, collectively commit to the intentional development and support of our local stores, shops, and enterprises. By doing so, they can ensure their growth and prosperity while sharing rewards as a united community.
Health Tip: Whip up more than just meals—build connections with a neighborhood cooking club! Come together to create nutritious, homemade dishes. Swap recipes, share ingredients, and enjoy healthy, home-cooked indulgences. Let the joy of cooking nourish your well-being all year long.
Beauty Tip: For lasting beauty, host a skincare clinic showcasing local dermatologists, skin experts, and makeup artists. Share the joy of the season by offering community members complimentary skin assessments and makeup techniques that are perfect for any occasion. Radiate a luminous glow that will be admired by all, and stands the test of time.
While the black candle and the neighboring green and three red candles illuminate the room, devote yourself wholeheartedly to rekindling the historical greatness of the community.
Health Tip: Level up your community’s well-being with a Wellness Wisdom Circle! Dive into lively conversations covering various aspects of health and self-improvement, drawing inspiration from my book, “Fulfilled: 52 Prescriptions for Healing, Health, and Happiness.” By exchanging ideas and nurturing community well-being, you tap into the principle of Nia, bringing a heightened sense of purpose and a wellness-centric focus into your collective experience.
Beauty Tip: Revitalize your beauty routine with a twist of purpose! Jot down what you adore about your look or a positive change you’ve spotted. This isn’t only about skincare—it’s a self-love journal in sync with the principle of Nia. This ritual can be your canvas for personal growth and self-acceptance.
With the essence of Kwanzaa brought to life by the flames of the central black, two closest green, and three red candles, make it your goal to use your unique talents and skills to leave your community better than you found it.
Health Tip: Let the music move you! Whether you’re into salsa, hip-hop, ballet, or even dance-based video games, slip on those dancing shoes. Feel the rhythm elevate your cardiovascular health, manage your weight, and enhance your flexibility. Groove into a healthier lifestyle.
Beauty Tip: Take your eye game to the next level by experimenting with eye-catching techniques! Play with colorful eyeliners or eye shadows and get creative with graphic dots, lines, or shapes around your eyes. Showcase your artistic side using pomades or gels in various colors, turning your eyes into a canvas for unique self-expression.
With each candle casting its glow, hold strong faith in your people—parents, teachers, and leaders—and the righteousness of their struggle.
Health Tip: Weave empowering affirmations that are in tune with your goals and dreams into your daily routine. Say aloud phrases like ‘I am capable,’ ‘I am resilient,’ or ‘I am worthy’ can really amp up that positive vibe, giving your overall well-being a nice boost.
Beauty Tip: Blend faith into your beauty regimen for inner and outer beauty. Regularly exfoliate with a scrub—consider options from Buff City Soap—crafted with spiritually significant natural ingredients like brown sugar, honey, and olive oil. This simple addition can provide a unique touch to your self-care routine. As you gently massage the scrub into your skin, reflect on the positive impact that your faith has on you, and feel more centered, while promoting healthy, glowing skin.
As the candles of Kwanzaa gently fade, let their glow linger in the choices we make each day. May the principles of unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith stand as pillars in our journey toward enduring health and timeless beauty. Let Kwanzaa be a perpetual source of inspiration, crafting a luminous legacy for ourselves and the communities we touch.
Dr. Bernadette Anderson is a distinguished family physician, and widely respected authority in the field of health and wellness. She is the author of “Fulfilled. 52 Prescriptions for Healing, Health, and Happiness” (foreword by Dr. Howard Murad).”
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