Created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African holiday in which people reflect on their culture, family and history and set goals for the future. By applying principles -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith -- to their lives, the participants work toward bettering their lives and strengthening ties with their family and community.
"We have on exhibit the Kwanzaa table," Coleman said, about a temporary display at Noble Hill, a black heritage museum located at 2361 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cassville. "We have the table all set with the kinara, the candles and all the things it represents.
"It's not a religious holiday but it is a time when you get together and talk about your culture, your history and you get together with family and friends and talk about how we can better ourselves and better the community where we live."
Celebrated annually from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org said, "[Kwanzaa's] origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. ... Kwanzaa builds on the five fundamental activities of Continental African 'first fruit' celebrations: ingathering; reverence; commemoration; recommitment; and celebration.
"Kwanzaa, then, is:
* a time of ingathering of the people to reaffirm the bonds between them;
* a time of special reverence for the creator and creation in thanks and respect for the blessings, bountifulness and beauty of creation;
* a time for commemoration of the past in pursuit of its lessons and in honor of its models of human excellence, our ancestors;
* a time of recommitment to our highest cultural ideals in our ongoing effort to always bring forth the best of African cultural thought and practice; and
* a time for celebration of the Good, the good of life and of existence itself, the good of family, community and culture, the good of the awesome and the ordinary, in a word the good of the divine, natural and social."
By examining items currently on exhibit and partaking in a Kwanzaa feast and program at Noble Hill Dec. 30 at 7 p.m., area residents will be introduced to the principles and symbols of the African-American holiday.
"[I hope] that their families will be drawn closer together, that each year they would have a new outlook on life, that they would study their history and get to know one another and the people in their neighborhood and try to better the neighborhood where they stay," she said. "[Each year] we try to inform mostly people of what we're doing. So this year ... we're going to have a meal and talk about what that principle means. We probably will go over all the principles but we'll mainly [focus on] the last one."
Echoing Coleman's comments, Noble Hill volunteer Ahmad Hall also is delighted to have the opportunity to share the meaning of Kwanzaa.
"I'm the co-planner," Hall said, about Noble Hill's Kwanzaa feast and program. "I'm just helping [Marian Coleman] get the event together. I'm really just wanting to inform the community about Kwanzaa.
"A lot of people think that it's a religious holiday, which it's not. It's actually about family and culture and community. I'm just really looking forward to the fellowship."
For more information about Noble Hill's Kwanzaa offering, call 770-382-3392. The cultural center will be open next week Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.