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Kwanzaa is a little known about cultural (not religious) holiday celebrated by approximately 1.6% of Americans (as reported in 2004 by BIG Research). It was created in 1966 to honor universal African American heritage and culture and is observed from December 26th to January 1st each year.

Thought to have roots in the United States Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s, Kwanzaa was created to give African Americans an alternative to the predominant December holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. Today, however, many Christian African Americans observe both holidays.

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa which include:

  • -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 stand up”.
  • -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”.

Major symbols of Kwanzaa are a decorative mat on which other symbols are placed, corn and crops, a candle holder with seven candles (kinara), a communal cup for pouring libations, gifts, a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to represent each of the seven principles. The crops are often placed in the center of the table and in modern day often include a bowl of fruit. North Raleigh Florist can send a fruit basket to your home or the home of a Kwanzaa celebrant in your life! Baskets will include fruits and gourmet items native toAfricasuch as mangos, oranges, blackberries, bananas, coffee, and coconuts.

NRFB1 — Starting at $65


As a florist we often hear our customers say “and NO carnations”, and we find ourselves wondering why. We think carnations have gotten a bad reputation as being “cheap” or “old looking”. Most people visualize a dozen carnations with baby’s breath as the quintessential “out of date arrangement”. Take it from us: for our stylish designers carnations can be pretty amazing for design.

Carnations have a unique ability to add texture to an arrangement. They also take up space and fill in holes accenting the other flowers in the arrangement.

Many popular flowers, like roses, have been over produced and bred causing them to no longer give off a sweet smell. Carnations, however, have maintained heir light sweet smell. Also, the smell is not overbearing so carnations are great to send to people with allergies.

Everyone wants to send an arrangement that will last a long time. Carnations can last for over a week if taken care of appropriately by cutting the stems and changing water daily. On the reverse side, roses or lilies might only last 4-5 days.

Carnations are available in a variety of colors in all shades of pink, white, red, and purple. They also come in variegated colors, such as peppermint or pink and white (pictured above).

When trying to send a large arrangement for under $45 it is best not to limit a designer from using carnations or daisies. They are inexpensive flowers that cost just $2 per stem. We only send an arrangement of all Carnations if requested, but as previously mentioned Carnations add volume and texture to mixed arrangements.

Did we change your mind yet?

Tonight marks the beginning of the 4th day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Across the world, there are nearly 14 million people of Jewish descent, and many of these people will recognize and celebrate the holiday in different ways.

Check out our Hanukkah Display

Let’s start with the origins of the holiday.  Some time, around 150 BC (BCE), the nation of Judea, under the leadership of the Maccabee family, fought for and gained its independence from Syrian captors. After winning the battle, the Jewish nation rededicated their temple and lit the temple menorah with consecrated oil. This holy oil requires 8 days to produce and the temple only had one day’s worth of oil available. The Jewish people prayed that the oil would last until the new oil was produced, and miraculously it did!  Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a celebration of this miracle.

In general, Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday. It is not a holiday mentioned in the Torah, and its importance pales in comparison to the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Passover, while not a High Holiday is also a much more important holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the miracle of the oil and the independence gained from Syria. It is celebrated through traditional games like dredel spinning (in low stakes games), through eating traditional foods (like latkes and sufganiot), through giving money to children, and through the nightly lighting of the menorah.

Latkes, a dredel and Gelt, All Hanukkah Traditions!

While each of these traditions from Israel holds true to the US, American culture has slightly altered the perception of Hanukkah. Because of it proximity to Christmas, those not familiar with Hanukkah may see it as a gift-giving holiday of great importance. This is not the case. It is a holiday of spending time with family, celebrating a miracle, and enjoying the history of a people. Small gifts are given by some families every night, and sometimes gifts are only given on the first couple of nights.


Much like Christmas, some of Hanukkah’s original meaning has been disguised by the hectic, commercial culture of the US. In practice though, many families hold these holidays to celebrate their original meanings. North Raleigh Florist celebrates with each of you and wishes each of you the happiest of holidays. Happy Hanukkah!

In early American history, Christmas was not always a celebrated holiday as it is now, and was even outlawed by the Puritans in Boston from 1659-1681. In fact, the first session of Congress was held on Christmas Day in 1789. December 25th was not declared a federal in the United States until 1870.

With so many immigrants creating American’s melting pot it is difficult to determine which traditions are truly American. Most Christmas traditions are a mixture of Irish, Polish, English, and Belgian combined with several other countries. One of the most prominent commonalities across cultures and traditions is family togetherness. This is true even among some non-Christians today who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday.

Early European settlers brought many traditions to the United States colonizing the South East. Settlers would send Christmas greetings to other colonies by discharging firearms and fireworks into the night sky. Today, Christmas celebrations vary greatly between regions of the United States due to the variety of nationalities that have immigrated here.


In Alaska, a star placed on top of a pole is taken from door to door and is followed by Herod’s Men, who try to capture the star as they sing carols waiting to be invited in for supper.

In Washington D.C., a huge, spectacular tree is lit ceremoniously by the President of the United States. For many families, having a Christmas Trees is an important tradition. Trees can be real or store bought and often decorated with ornaments that have been collected from generation to generation. Often, ornaments can show the heritage of a family or places that they have traveled.

In Arizona, the Mexican ritual called Las Posadas continues today. This is a ritual procession and play represents the search of Mary and Joseph for a room. Families play the parts and visit each other’s homes re-enacting the story while looking at each family’s crib.

In Hawaii, Christmas begins with the coming of the Christmas Tree Ship that brings Christmas trees. These trees must be refrigerated and are of limited quantity. On Christmas Day, under the sunny skies Santa Claus arrives by boat to a large ceremony, and Christmas dinner is eaten outdoors. Many pictures of Santa Clause in Hawaii show Santa Arriving on a Canoe being pulled by dolphins.

In Colorado, an enormous star is placed on the top of a mountain during the holiday season, and can be seen for many miles. All across the United States, Christmas Trees are often topped with angels or stars symbolizing different aspects of the birth of Christ. A common secular option is a large bow with streamers.

Whether you practice these traditions or create your own, remember that Christmas is a time for being with family and friends. At North Raleigh Florist we know how important traditions and family are. We are here to help you celebrate with your family near or far by creating a unique table centerpiece or arrangement using the freshest flowers and Christmas greens. We also have Poinsettias, Christmas Cactuses, and Paper White plants available. Call us today to order an arrangement or plant for yourself, a family member, or a loved one you cannot be near this holiday season.

Happy Holidays from North Raleigh Florist!

Poinsettias are natives of Mexico. They also grow in Australia and New Zealand, Hawaii, and parts of California as a perennial flowering shrub, reaching up to 10 feet tall! They tend to prefer bright light and warmer temperatures. North Raleigh Florist offers these tips for caring for your poinsettias.

Poinsettia Plants

When selecting a poinsettia, choose one with tightly clustered, small central flowers and crisp bright foliage.  To care for your poinsettias, the main things to remember are they do not like hot or cold drafts, they prefer bright indirect light, and the soil needs to stay moist. Allow the soil surface to dry slightly and water thoroughly. This can be every 2-3 days or once a week, depending on your home temperature, but do not let the pot stand in water. Leaf drop on poinsettias usually occurs when the plant is not in a bright enough location, or the soil is allowed to get too dry. The warm temperatures in most homes in the winter can make it a challenge to care for your poinsettias.

Large Poinsettia

Poinsettias are not poisonous as once reported! They do have a milky sap that can be mildly irritating to the skin or if ingested by anyone with a sensitivity to it. A child or animal would have to eat multiple plants to show any serious ill affects.  If you follow these reminders, your poinsettias will look great all through the season. Enjoy your poinsettia, and Happy Holidays from North Raleigh Florist!

North Raleigh Florist


December 2011
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