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Happy Kwanzaa



Kwanzaa History The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal.

 

1. Kwanzaa was created in the 1960s.

Maulana Karenga, a Black nationalist who later became a college professor, created Kwanzaa as a way of uniting and empowering the African American community in the aftermath of the deadly Watts Rebellion.

2. Many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas.

Though often thought of as an alternative to Christmas, many people actually celebrate both. “Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but a cultural one with an inherent spiritual quality,”

3. Kwanzaa centers around seven principles.

The seven principles of Kwanzaa, as determined by Karenga, are umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity) and imani (faith). Kwanzaa also has seven symbols–mazao (crops), mkeka (mat), kinara (candleholder), muhindi (corn), kikombe cha umoja (unity cup), zawadi (gifts) and mishumaa saba (seven candles)–that are traditionally arranged on a table. Three of the seven candles are red, representing the struggle; three of the candles are green, representing the land and hope for the future; and one of the candles is black, representing people of African descent. Some families who celebrate Kwanzaa dress up or decorate their homes in those colors.

4. Homemade and educational gifts are encouraged.

In order to avoid over-commercialization, gifts handed out to family members on the last day of Kwanzaa are often homemade.

5. U.S. presidents habitually wish the nation a happy Kwanzaa.

Presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama issued statements on Kwanzaa.  The holiday also has made inroads with the U.S. Postal Service, which has issued Kwanzaa stamps since 1997.

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