Kwanzaa is a celebration of African heritage that takes place from December 26th to January 1st. It originated in 1966 with Maulana Karenga, a professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies at California State University.
Kwanzaa is a December holiday that celebrates African culture, family, and community.The Kwanzaa celebration begins on December 26 and reaches its peak on the seventh day which is called the Nguzo Saba: the seven principles of African American culture. These principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purposeful education, positive social change, and collective conscience.
The holiday lasts for seven days with each day representing one of these seven principles: unity (December 26), self-determination (December 27), collective work and responsibility (December 28), cooperative economics (December 29), purposeful education (December 30), positive social change (December 31), and collective conscience (January 1).
1 Kwanzaa is not a religious celebration but a celebration of African culture and heritage.
2 Kwanzaa is originally spelled as Kwanza in Swahili; however, the founder deemed it best to differentiate the African America celebration by adding an extra “a.”
3 Kwanzaa is celebrated with green, red, and black colors. The red signifies the shed blood for the fight for freedom. Green stands for the fertile land of Africa. And black represents the color of the people.
4 Kwanzaa is celebrated with a festive atmosphere and thus the use of party-poppers, whistles, glow sticks, prizes and loot bags, decorations, costumes, and serving of traditional foods are encouraged.
5 The traditional gifts given during Kwanzaa center on learning therefore books on African culture and heritage are suitable.
6 The term Kwanzaa is a Swahili term that refers to “first fruits.”
7 They make use of a 7-branched candelabrum known as the kinara where each night, celebrants light a new candle.
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8 On December 31, Karamu is held which is an African feast. Preferred dishes are usually those that feature ingredients from Africa like spicy sauces, collard greens, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, and sesame seeds.
9 For each day of celebrating Kwanzaa, there is also a corresponding principle to honor. So, in total, there are 7 principles to be honored and they are: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, a sense of purpose, creativity, and faith.
10 This celebration was instituted in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate heritage, culture, and family. This day also coincides with Africa’s first harvest celebrations.
11 Kwanzaa is also celebrated using 7 symbols which are: the unity cup (to honor African ancestors), the candelabrum (symbolizes the extended family), fruits, nuts, and vegetables (as a reminder of the harvest back in Africa), the 7 candles (to represent the 7 principles), mat (represents the foundation where communities are built), ear of corn (symbol for each child present), and gifts (cultural and educational gifts to children given on January 1).
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What Is Kwanzaa and How Is It Celebrated?
Every December 26th, the holiday of Kwanzaa begins. Kwanzaa is rooted in African celebrations of harvest, but its formal origin is surprisingly recent. The holiday was started by Maulana Karenga, a professor in California, in 1966. Dr. Karenga wanted African Americans “to feel good about themselves and to have something that they could connect to, to make their lives better,” Dr. Linda Humes, an educator, told InsideEdition.com
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