Kwanzaa

When is it celebrated?

It is celebrated for 7 days, from December 26st to January 1st.

Who celebrates it?

It is celebrated by African Americans throughout America.

Where does it originate from?

Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga in 1966 to bring the African community and culture together.  He combined African customs and beliefs to create the holiday, that means “first fruits,” in Swahili.

Symbols/Traditions:

  • Dancing, telling stories, singing songs
  • Each day a candle is lit on the Kinara and the principle of the day is discussed.  The principles include: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
  • The holiday is also represented by seven symbols: Mazoa (the crops), Mkeka (the placemat), Vibunzi (the ear of corn), Mishumaa Saba (the Seven Candles), Kinara (the candleholder), Kikombe Cha Umoja (the unity cup), and Zawadi (gifts).
  • On December 31st, Kwanzaa cumulates with a big feast called, Karamu.
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