Black Family Traditions at Christmas

Back in the day, black families could look forward to the holidays as a time to catch up with family members, see and play with all the new babies, nieces, nephews and grand kids, and most importantly, say blessings and break bread over tables laden with mouth watering concoctions from Mama and grand mama's kitchen. Turkey, ham, baked macaroni and cheese, collard greens, black eye peas and rice, sweet potatoes, corn bread, sweet potato pie and banana pudding. The list of these delights went on and on, depending on what household you lived in. No matter what the fare, mama and grand mama would always turn it out! We'd eat those heaping plates of food with smiles on our faces, warmth in our hearts and the joy of being around all those who we loved and who loved us. Back in the day when family was a most important tradition in the Black community, Christmas was King!

Flash forward a few generations, and you might think that some have lost the spirit. Families are now not as intact, daddies are not in all the homes the way they used to be, doing the man thing and putting up the tree, and many of us are too independent and have broken away from the family unit to do our own thing. Sometimes, this is for good reason. Staying close to the family for some can be stifling and can inhibit one's growth in certain ways. However, even if it's only once or twice a year, we should all try to hold on to what little tradition and spirit of family that we still do have. If it takes the holidays to do it, by all means, embrace the holidays and be with your family for all its worth. Even if it's a family that really gets on your nerves, you can stand it for at least one or two days! ;)

Black Christmas Figurines

Christmas Figurines

Teaching Children that Christmas is Still About Jesus

We get so caught up in the commercialism of Christmas that we often forget that this entire holiday is really the celebration of Christ's birth. We as adults know this, but it can go right over the children's heads if you allow it to. All they're thinking about is getting an XBox, Dora the Explorer, DJ Hero or the Wii. Older children see it as an opportunity to get some cash from aunts and uncles to go out and buy stuff. The television and all other media shows us sale after sale with jolly, hearty Santas ready to deliver us all these gifts as long as we're willing to go deep into our pockets to pay for it all. Somehow, in the midst of all that the true meaning of this holy day gets lost. It's up to you as the parent and the adult to make sure that doesn't happen. At least not at your house.

Even while you're doing the shopping, the decorating and the cooking, don't forget to sit your children and family down to teach them the real meaning of Christmas. This can be done with books, the holiday programs that come on TV (like the story of Jesus' birth that comes on every year), old pictures of you and your family celebrating Christmas when you were young, and if you are one who still does manage to get there from time to time, holiday church services.

You don't have to shove it down their throats, but do make sure that they know it and understand the true meaning of Christmas. It's not just about what's on sale and what's under the tree.

Black Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards

Sweet Potato Pie

A black family and southern tradition. Everybody's mama or grandma has their own recipe for this one and thinks theirs is the best. I don't care who makes it as long as they know what they're doing! Here's a basic recipe for sweet potato pie. Try it and start this sweet tradition in your own house. It's not 'easy as pie' to do, but in the end, it is worth it!

You will need:

* 1 ½ cup sweet potatoes (boiled, peeled, and mashed until smooth)
* 2 tablespoons melted butter
* ½ tsp salt
* 3 eggs lightly beaten
* 1 ¾ cups whole milk (regular milk)
* ½ tightly packed cup light brown sugar
* ½ tsp ginger
* 1 tsp powdered cinnamon
* 1 9 inch deep dish pie shell


1. Mix together in a bowl the sweet potatoes, butter, and brown sugar.
2. Add ginger, cinnamon, and salt and mix.
3. Combine eggs and milk and add to sweet potato pie mixture and mix well.
4. Pour sweet potato pie mixture into pie shell.
5. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees F and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. This method of high and then low baking helps keep the crust from being mushy or soggy.

Read more at Suite101: Southern Sweet Potato Pie Recipes: Three Easy Soul Food Sweet Potato Desserts That Taste Fabulous


Kwanzaa is a tradition that was begun in 1967 to honor black heritage and culture and give black people an alternative to celebrating christmas, while also providing a holiday with real purpose and meaning beyond just trimming trees and giving out gifts.

The name Kwanzaa means "first fruits of the harvest" and during this time those who practice observe the seven principles of blackness. Those principles are:

* Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
* Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
* Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers and sisters problems our problems, and to solve them together.
* Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
* Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
* Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
* Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

In households during the celebration, which lasts from Dec 26th to January 1st, there are decorations of black or african art, kente cloth, bowls of fruit and the lighting of candles to represent the 7 principles.

Although the tradition and practice of Kwanzaa began very strongly since it was conceived when the Black Power movement was still alive and in full swing, in recent years the amount of Black people who do celebrate in the US and UK has dwindled. Perhaps there is time for a revival and some serious promotion of this beautiful, meaningful, empowering tradition that was created by us for us.

Alone For the Holidays - Three Ways to Ease the Blues

Will you be alone for the holidays this year? Unfortunately, many of us may have to experience the season without familiar loved ones sometime in our life. If you have magical memories of festive celebrating, you may feel anguished at the thought of spending the time alone. Here are three ways to help ease the blues.

Be prepared

Be realistic with your emotions and realize there may be ups and downs. You may convince yourself that you can handle it, but you can expect that any familiar sights, sounds or aromas can trigger wistful thinking. Take an inventory of your most vibrant memories. Close your eyes and envision the event. Where was the setting? Why was it special? What senses to you recall? Write down on paper that you can refer back to a list of these memories. Pick a specific item from each of the memories that made it so special and plan to have it one hand. For example, if the smell of gingerbread cookies filled the air on Christmas Eve, have gingerbread dough on hand ready to bake. If you watched a special Christmas movie, plan to have it on hand...

Christmas on a Budget

I cannot believe it is that time of year again... Christmas! This year more and more of us are looking to save money wherever we can, and Christmas is no exception. During the distant times of an economic boom our spending at Christmas increased. Some people told me in the past they spent $1000 on each child, hundreds on food and even more money on New Year's Eve! Our budgets have been cut, our consumer confidence is low, but our kids and our own personal expectations for Christmas remain high. When one is somewhat broke, this can be a problem!

At this time of year, we want to break the budget and enjoy ourselves while make our homes sparkly and spicy. I would like to show you how to create your perfect Christmas without breaking the budget...I have been using these techniques and saving money through out the year -- not just at Christmas. I own an event planning company and over the years I have developed many ways to save money when planning events. I want to show you how to adapt these ideas to plan yourself great Christmas on a budget.

Your Christmas budget -- set your budget and STICK TO IT. In the past I have gotten caught up in the spirit of Christmas and ended up doing my Christmas shopping twice!!...