Kwanzaa is a
weeklong cultural holiday that is celebrated between December 26th
and January 1st through which African Americans can connect with
their heritage and culture.
This holiday has not been around as long as some other holidays.
In fact, the first Kwanza celebration was started in 1966 by dr. Maulana Karenga during the very disruptive time when African Americans were struggling with civil rights and was developed out to bring black people together and to honor and remember their heritage.
Kwanzaa takes its roots from the phrase "matunda ya kwanzaa", meaning "first fruits" in Swahili language which is chosen to be the language of Kwanzaa to reflect African Americans commitment to honoring the whole Africa as Swahili is the most commonly used African language.
The way Kwanzaa is celebrated differs from family to family, although the basics are the same. It consists of a week of celebrations, which ends with a feast and exchanging gifts. During the celebrations, every night of the holiday a family member, usually it is the youngest child of the family, lights a candle and then they talk about one of the Kwanzaa principles. There are seven principles that are being discussed and each day of Kwanzaa is consecrated to one of the principles.
· Umoja or "unity" – encourages African Americans to unite and to build a stronger ethnic community.
· Kujichagulia or "self-determination" – this means that black people should build a community with its own delineated entity, to voice their opinions and to become self-sufficient in order to be able to provide for themselves.
· Ujima or "collective work and responsibility" – this doctrine teaches them to build a healthy community where each member will contribute to solving problems as a family unit.
· Nia or "purpose" – according to this principle every African American must try to develop his community.
· Ujamaa or "cooperative economics" – teaches them to adopt some constructive means of livelihood and to share earnings and resources for the development of the entire community.
· Kuumba or "creativity' – tells them to be innovative and to enrich their culture.
· Imani or "faith" – tells them that they should have faith and to believe in the teaching of their ancestors.
Also during the celebration of Kwanzaa, libations are poured for which a wooden unity cup is used. It includes performance of music and drumming. Women usually wear brightly colored traditional clothing.
The main symbol of Kwanzaa holiday is a mat, on which the things needed for the celebration is being put such as the unity cup, a candlestick holding seven candles, the seven candles, ears of corn, the Kwanzaa flag, and a poster with seven principles of Kwanzaa.
The colors of this holiday are red, black, and green and the flag consists of three blocks, one in each of these colors. The candles are also colored, three of seven are red, three are green, and one is black. Each candle represents one of the principles of the Kwanzaa.
Kwanza holiday gained popularity very quickly and now it is estimated that about 13 percent of all African Americans celebrate this holiday.
Kwanzaa Party Printables:
Kwanzaa Party Invitation