A Celebration of Culture and Heritage

Kwanzaa is a prominent holiday, but many people are still unsure of what this holiday celebrates. Most people assume that Kwanzaa has been around for hundreds of years, but it is surprisingly a fairly new holiday.

What Is Kwanzaa?

The holiday Kwanzaa is actually a collection of holidays. Eager to bring his community closer, Maulana Karenga began researching African celebrations for the harvest. Ultimately, he found a wide collection of harvest celebrations and decided to bring different parts of different celebrations to make a single special celebration.
Kwanzaa is a word taken from the Swahili language. It means ‘first’ and is used for the holiday because Kwanzaa is meant to celebrate the first harvest of the year. Kwanzaa is not a single day, but several instead. It starts on December 26th and spreads out until January 1st each year.
Ignition of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa's Origin

Kwaanza was officially created by Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of Black Studies, back in 1966. This California-born holiday was made to do what holidays do best: bring people together. In this article, we will discuss Kwanzaa and the history of this notable celebration.

What Traditions Are There?

First and foremost, Kwanzaa is considered to be a time for reflection. It is a moment when everyone is supposed to reflect on their personal principles and truly consider their contributions. When everyone meets during this time, it is to celebrate and unify behind a positive outcome. Since a successful harvest takes the work of many, people take time to reflect on their shared success and commit to new ways that they can help their community.
During this time, there are a few key customs that work to make Kwanzaa all the more special. First, it is standard for celebrators to greet those around them with the phrase ‘Habari Gani’ which means ‘What is the news?’ so that each person can respond with the principle that is being celebrated that day. 

African-American Heritage

There are seven principles in total: unity, self-determination, shared work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
In addition to these customs, there is also a special candle lighting ceremony that is the focal point of Kwanzaa. It involves celebrating with the entire family and includes shared singing, as well as chanting. The candle lighting ceremony focuses on reinforcing the principles in a symbolic way.

Kwanzaa Foods

Since Kwanzaa is so new, a lot of the foods that are popular are also fairly modern. It is common for tables to be filled with catfish, macaroni and cheese, and even jerk chicken. 

The foods you will find on the table are all fairly common in the Caribbean, as well as prominent African regions.


The Beauty of Community

Most holidays are built on tradition, but Kwanzaa was created for a purpose. It took one man who saw the need to build his community up and decided to get this holiday started, and now it is celebrated on a national level. It is a chance to celebrate the beauty of African communities while enjoying good company and considering the principles that help communities to thrive.

Discover the world with hand selected videos on our new YouTube channel