If you thought Christmas and Hanukkah were the only two holidays this time of the year, get ready for another reason to celebrate! Kwanzaa, meaning "first" in Swahili, signifies the first fruits of the harvest.
Every year, from December 26 to January 1, many people of African descent in America commemorate Kwanzaa.
What is Kwanzaa and why is it celebrated?
Kwanzaa is a time for families and communities to come together to remember the past and celebrate African American culture. Created in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday celebrating history, values, family, community, and culture. It was created in 1966 by Pan-African activist and academic Maulana Karenga Karenga, born Ron Everett, who created the holiday during a particularly tumultuous time in American history. Karenga was a member of the US Organization, or simply US, a black nationalist group providing relief after the Watts riots broke out in 1965.
According to TIME, this turbulent season is when Everett created Kwanzaa. "He saw that black people here had no holidays of their own and felt that holidays give a people a sense of identity and direction." Imamu Clyde Halisi, then national chairman of the US, told the magazine in 1972.
Kwanzaa is observed for seven days, and there is a different value for each day On each night, a candle is lit to observe the nguzo saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
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