The word “Kwanzaa” is derived from Swahili and translates to “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration from December 26th-Janurary 1st.
Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, first observed in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate and honor African culture and to also inspire African-Americans. Some think that it’s a religious holiday, but Kwanzaa is not. The seven days of the Kwanzaa celebration correspond with seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
- Kwanzaa is mainly celebrated in the US.
- There are approximately 18 million people who celebrate Kwanzaa.
- Kwanzaa celebrations include African dances, drums, storytelling and poetry.
- People who celebrate Kwanzaa have a big feast called Karamu on 12/31.
- Seven candles are lit during Kwanzaa – the first one is black, the second is red and the third is green. The remaining four candles alternate between red and green. Red, green and black are the holiday’s symbolic colors. The candle-lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa.
- Traditional Kwanzaa gifts center on learning, so books about African heritage and culture are appropriate.