The History of Kwanzaa

The History of KwanzaaKwanzaa is a non-religious holiday that was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966 to celebrate the African-American culture. Dr. Karenga created this seven-day festival as a way to bring African Americans together as a community.

Between December 26 and January 1 seven different Kwanzaa principles and symbols are studied. The seven principles, Unity, Self Determination, Collective Work & Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith, are values of African culture that contribute to building a strong community. During each night of Kwanzaa one of the principles is discussed and a child in the family lights a candle on the Kinara, the candleholder. The seven symbols that represent the values of African American culture include crops, place mat, ear of corn, the seven candles, the candleholder, the unity cup and gifts.

Although each family celebrates Kwanzaa in a unique way, many of the celebrations include songs & dances, stories & poetry, African drums and a feast called Karamu. Karamu is held on December 31st and celebrants share traditional African dishes.

This time of commemoration between family and friends brings this culture together to celebrate pride and heritage.

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