Kwanzaa is a celebration that honors African heritage in African-American culture. Every year from December 26 – January 1, Kwanzaa brings people together for feasts, gift-giving, and the celebration of family, community and culture.
The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. On each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa, families gather and light one of the seven candles on the Kinara, which is a candle holder. Once this is done, one of the seven principles of Nguzo Saba are discussed among the family. These principles are values of African culture.
Believe it or not, Kwanzaa is actually a fairly “new” holiday. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga who was a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University at the time (1966). Dr. Karenga was looking for a way to bring the African-American community together, so he founded “US,” a cultural organization, and began digging into African harvest celebrations. He then put several of those together, and Kwanzaa was born.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Learn more about Kwanzaa, and partake in the celebrations if you wish! Everyone is encouraged to celebrate. Use #Kwanzaa to post on social media. The holiday is based around these seven principles.
- Collective work and responsibility
- Cooperative Economics
This month, do your own research on the history and meaning of Kwanzaa to learn more and appreciate the reason it came about in the first place. Whether you are African-American or not, you are encouraged to take part!
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966.