Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture and heritage.
When is Kwanzaa celebrated?
It lasts seven days from December 26th to January 1st.
Who celebrates this day?
The holiday is mostly celebrated by African-Americans in the United States.
What do people do to celebrate?
Kwanzaa is celebrated by ceremonies throughout the week. Many people celebrate by decorating their home in African art as well as the traditional Kwanzaa colors of green, black, and red. They may also wear traditional African clothing. Women may wear a colorful wrap called a kaftan. Men may wear a colorful shirt called a dashiki and a hat called a kufi.
On the last day of Kwanzaa, families often gather for a large feast called karamu. Sometimes karamu is celebrated at a local church or community center. Here they enjoy traditional African dishes.
History of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Korenga in 1966. The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase that means "first fruits of the harvest". Initially the holiday was meant as an alternative to Christmas, but later it was said to be in addition to other religious holidays such as Christmas.
There are seven symbols that people gather for the ceremonies. They include:
- Unity cup
- The candle holder which holds seven candles
- The seven candles
- Fruits, nuts, and vegetables
- Ears of corn
- A mat to set the above on
There are seven main principals, one for each day of the celebration:
- Umoja - Unity: To remain united in the community
- Kujichagulia - Self-Determination: To be responsible for yourself and your community
- Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility: To work together
- Ujamaa - Cooperative Economics: To create African-American owned businesses
- Nia - Purpose: To build and develop the community
- Kuumba - Creativity: To improve our community and make it more beautiful
- Imani - Faith: To believe that the world can become a better place
- Many people of African heritage in Canada also celebrate this holiday.
- Each of the candles represents a different principle.
- The candles are different colors; black, green, or red. There is one black candle which stands for unity. There are three green candles which represent the future and three red candles which represent the struggle out of slavery.
- It is not considered a religious holiday.
- The first US postage stamp commemorating Kwanzaa was issued in 1997.
- Some people combine aspects of Kwanzaa and Christmas together today in order to celebrate their race as well as their religion.
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