Celebration of Kwanzaa

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Celebration of Kwanzaa

The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Aveline Alarcon

The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Aveline Alarcon

Aveline Alarcon

The seven candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Aveline Alarcon, Staff Writer

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America is known for being one of the most racially diverse countries. It’s full of culture and people with different backgrounds. Kwanzaa is a week long celebration in the United States and parts of the West African diaspora in the Americas.

Kwanzaa was created with the purpose to bring the African American community back together after a difficult time. The day is celebrated a day after Christmas and goes on until January 1 and it’s a total of seven days.

  1. Kwanzaa isn’t a religious holiday

Kwanzaa isn’t a religious holiday but instead it’s a cultural holiday. It begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st. The holiday is not exclusive to African Americans but it was created with the purpose of explicitly being one. The holiday celebrates community, culture and reconnecting with African roots.

  1. Kinara

The Kinara consist of seven candles; three red, one black, and three green. Like Hanukkah, one candle is lit on every night of the holiday and they are lit from left to right. Each candle represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. The red candles represent the struggle of the people, the black candles represent the African-American people and the green candle represents hope for the future. A candle is light every night.

  1. Kwanzaa is not an exclusive holiday

The founder of Kwanzaa encourages people to take part of his/her celebration. Dr. Karenga, the founder, has said that he hopes people will come together and put an end to racial divides. He wants to bring together people to celebrate African American culture in the same way we do with other traditions such as Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day. Dr. Karenga hopes that with people getting a glimpse into the culture and learning something from the seven principles of Kwanzaa, more people will want to join.

  1. The Seven Principles

There are seven days of Kwanzaa and as each day passes, it’s another day people must honor the Seven principles of Kwanzaa. The Seven Principles are;

-unity (umoja)

-self-determination (kuji chagulia)

-collective responsibility (ujima)

-cooperative economics (ujamaa)

-purpose (nia)

-creativity (kuumba)

-faith (imani)

  1. Kwanzaa all around  the world

Kwanzaa is not celebrated around the world. The holiday was created in the United States and it is celebrated by 18 million people in the United States alone. Recently, Kwanzaa has been acknowledged in other parts of the world such as Paris, Toronto, Jamaica and London.

  1. Gifts

Educational and homemade gifts are traditionally handed during this holiday. Homemade gifts are made towards the last day but during Kwanzaa educational gifts are recommended. Typically music, books, art or other cultural products and handed to the individual. Homemade gifts such as scrapbooks or art pieces are given. Gifts are handed during the last day of Kwanzaa, which is January first, and the gifts are meant to be given with a purpose of encouraging growth, education, self-determination and success.

  1. Nights

Kwanzaa is very different from the other holidays, one of the most obvious differences is that it is not a religious holiday and it is not celebrated all around the world. With each passing night, one candle is lit and people will talk about one of the seven principles each night.

  1. December 31st

When December 31st comes around, people will traditionally throw a feast. The Feast is known as the Kwanzaa Feast or Kamura. The feast consist of many types of African origin recipes such as foods from African recipes to South American recipes. The night also consist of reflecting up the past seven days, Dr. Karenga also created a program on how the feasting ceremony should go but it’s optional.

  1. The History

Kwanzaa was first celebrated around 1966, after the Watts Riots. Dr. Karenga wanted a way to bring the African American community back together after such a devastating event. He then began a search for the African “first fruit” Harvest celebrations and combined them with other culture’s harvest celebrations and from there, came the first Kwanzaa.

  1. The Celebration

Since Kwanzaa wasn’t founded on any religious beliefs, there isn’t an exact way to celebrate it. Each family can celebrate Kwanzaa as they please, the only major requirement is that they light the Kinara each night and go over the seven principles, as the days go by.

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