Most students during this time of year are preparing to head home for the holidays. The question is which holiday will these students celebrate once they get home.
Although there are a number of holidays celebrated this season, two holidays many people at Florida A&M University celebrate are Christmas and Kwanzaa.
Kwanzaa, founded by Ron “Maulana” Karenga in 1966, is a weeklong celebration that lasts from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. The holiday highlights seven African principles. But there is some controversy surrounding the holiday; some students believe the holiday is fictitious.
“I used to celebrate Kwanzaa, but I had a conversation with two African students and changed my mind,” said Naajiya Dodson, a first-year business administration student from New York. “They told me that they didn’t like the way people took items from their culture and changed them.”
Other students disagree with Dodson’s opinion. Jasmine Furr said she celebrates Kwanzaa thinks it is a beneficial holiday for blacks in America.
Somona Taylor, a freshman business administration student from Orlando, said she is happy about the holiday because it will be the first year she and her family celebrate Kwanzaa.
“I’m excited because my dad said our family is going to start celebrating Kwanzaa this year,” she said. “My little sister was just born and he named her Qwanzaa.”
Although some students have begun celebrating Kwanzaa, others continue to celebrate Christmas. It stemmed from Saturnalia, the celebration of Italian god Saturn. With time, this celebration evolved to take on a Christian meaning.
“I’ve always celebrated Christmas,” said sophomore Stehson Covington, a criminal justice student from Miami. “The thought of celebrating Kwanzaa honestly never crossed my mind.”
Some students choose not to celebrate Kwanzaa because of the ambiguity of the holiday. Senior Mark Ivy, a senior marketing student from Jacksonville, said he believes there are many people who are uneducated about Kwanzaa’s true purpose.
“I don’t celebrate Kwanzaa because I don’t know enough about it,” he said.
While some people celebrate one of the two holidays, Lauren Elliott said she thinks people should celebrate the two simultaneously.
“They actually compliment each other really well,” said Elliott, a pharmacy student from Jacksonville. “The principles give a beneficial outlook on the real world view, while Christmas gives a more spiritual outlook.”
Nictoria Frazier, a freshman business administration student from Brooklyn, agreed with Elliott, saying no one is making people only celebrating one holiday.
“I don’t believe that you have to choose,” Frazier said. “It’s like mayonnaise and mustard – you can have both on your sandwich.”
Some students are turned away by the commercialism associated with the holidays. And for that reason, they do not celebrate either.
“There’s no point in celebrating commercial holidays because it’s just me and my mom,” said freshman Paige Casey. “I don’t want her to pay for extra stuff that I don’t really need.”
Other holidays that are celebrated during this time of year some include Ramadan and Hanukkah.