Kwanzaa – African American Holiday – Dec. 26, 2022.

December 26th – January 1st.

Kwanzaa is a NEW holiday tradition that originated in the United States in the 1966. It was after the Watt’s riots in Los Angeles that Maulana Karenga professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966.

He realized that the ancestors of African Americans in the United States had come from different parts of Africa and in modern times they practiced different religions, and lived in different places, therefore there was a need to bring African Americans together as one community under common principles to help future generations feel proud of their African heritage and have a common secular celebration regardless of religion or place of origin.

He was inspired by harvest celebrations, and those honoring ancestors in African countries and incorporated them in one single celebration using the words Kwanzaa  “matunda ya kwanza” [first fruits] and “Nguzo Saba” [seven principles] from the Swahili language. Kwanzaa is a cultural non-religious celebration of African American heritage and like all celebrations it includes Lights, Food, Fellowship, Family, Reflexion, Music, Gifts, Clothing, all related to African and African American culture. It lasts for Seven nights, each night the family recite one of “The Seven Principles” and lights a candle on the Kinara which has three red candles, one middle black and three green candles.

 Seven Principles:

  1. Umoja (unity)
  2. Kujichagulia (self-determination),
  3. Ujima (collective work and responsibility),
  4. Ujamaa (cooperative economics),
  5. Nkuumba (creativity)
  6. Imani (faith).

 Seven Symbols:

  1. Mazao (crops)
  2. Mkeka (mat)
  3. Kinara (candleholder)
  4. Mmkeka (mat)
  5. Kikombe cha umoja (unity cup)
  6. Zawadi (gifts)
  7. Mishumaa saba (seven candles)–that are traditionally arranged on a table.

Books about Kwanzaa that you might want to read.

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