Happy Kwanzaa! The holiday, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, kicks off Dec. 26. From how long it lasts to its seven principles, here’s what you need to know!
1. When does Kwanzaa start? Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26 and lasts until Jan. 1. Dr. Maulana Karenga, who is a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. Following the violent and deadly Watts riots in Los Angeles, Maulana wanted a way to bring African Americans together to celebrate their heritage, according to History.com. Aspects of harvest celebrations like Ashanti and Zulu helped influence Kwanzaa.
2. How long does Kwanzaa last? Kwanzaa lasts for 7 days. You can still celebrate Christmas if you celebrate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is the celebration of a culture, not a religion. Gifts, or “zawadi” in Swahili, the chosen language for Kwanzaa and a popular language in east Africa, are exchanged during the celebration. The gifts are usually tied to African culture. Kwanzaa celebrations usually feature songs, dances, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large meal.
3. Where did the name “Kwanzaa” come from? The name is derived from “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in the Swahili language.
4. The colors of the candles used during Kwanzaa are symbolic. Those celebrating Kwanzaa use a kinara, a Kwanzaa candle holder. Seven candles are lighted over the seven days of Kwanzaa and are symbolic of Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of African heritage. The colors of the candles are black, red, and green. Black is used to symbolize African people, red is used to symbolize their struggle, and green symbolizes the future and hope that comes from their struggle.
5. There are 7 principles when it comes to Kwanzaa. The seven principles are: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
HollywoodLifers, happy Kwanzaa!