Kwanzaa (/ˈkwɑːn.zə/) is a celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas and lasts a week. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.[1] Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–67.

Kwanzaa Candles-Kinara
Seven candles in a kinara symbolize the seven principles of Kwanzaa
Observed byAfrican Americans, parts of African diaspora
TypeCultural and ethnic
SignificanceCelebrates African heritage, unity, and culture.
Giving gifts
DateDecember 26 to January 1
Related toPan-Africanism

History and etymology

American Black Power activist and secular humanist Maulana Karenga, also known as Ronald McKinley Everett, created Kwanzaa in 1966, as a specifically African-American holiday,[2] in a spirit comparable to Juneteenth. According to Karenga, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest".[3] A more conventional translation would simply be "first fruits". The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s, although most of the Atlantic slave trade that brought African people to America originated in West Africa.[4][5]

First fruits festivals exist in Southern Africa, celebrated in December/January with the southern solstice, and Karenga was partly inspired by an account he read of the Zulu festival Umkhosi Wokweshwama.[6] It was decided to spell the holiday's name with an additional "a" so that it would have a symbolic seven letters.[7]

Kwanzaa is a celebration with its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s. Karenga established it to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzo Saba, the "seven principles of African Heritage", which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy". For Karenga, a major figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, the creation of such holidays also underscored an essential premise "you must have a cultural revolution before the violent revolution. The cultural revolution gives identity, purpose and direction."[8]

During the early years of Kwanzaa, Karenga said it was meant to be an alternative to Christmas. He believed Jesus was psychotic and Christianity was a "White" religion that Black people should shun.[9] As Kwanzaa gained mainstream adherents, Karenga altered his position so practicing Christians would not be alienated, then stating in the 1997 Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture, "Kwanzaa was not created to give people an alternative to their own religion or religious holiday."[10] Many African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas.[11]

Principles and symbols

A display of Kwanzaa symbols with fruit and vegetables

Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder called the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba – the seven principles of African Heritage), which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy," consisting of what Karenga called "the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world." They were developed in 1965, a year before Kwanzaa itself. These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili word meaning "common". Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:[12]

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa celebratory symbols include a mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed: a Kinara (candle holder), Mishumaa Saba (seven candles), mazao (crops), Muhindi (corn), a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) for commemorating and giving shukrani (thanks) to African Ancestors, and Zawadi (gifts). Supplemental representations include a Nguzo Saba poster,[13] the black, red, and green bendera (flag), and African books and artworks – all to represent values and concepts reflective of African culture and contribution to community building and reinforcement.[14] Ears of corn represent the children celebrating and corn may be part of the holiday meal.[15]


A woman lighting kinara candles for Kwanzaa.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art, colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women, and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors. Libations are shared, generally with a common chalice, Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa.[16] The holiday greeting is "Joyous Kwanzaa".[17][18][19]

A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast (karamu). The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani?[20] which is Swahili for "How are you?"[21]

At first, observers of Kwanzaa avoided the mixing of the holiday or its symbols, values, and practice with other holidays, as doing so would violate the principle of kujichagulia (self-determination) and thus violate the integrity of the holiday, which is partially intended as a reclamation of important African values. Today, many African American families celebrate Kwanzaa along with Christmas and New Year's.[22] Frequently, both Christmas trees and kinaras, the traditional candle holder symbolic of African American roots, share space in Kwanzaa-celebrating households. For people who celebrate both holidays, Kwanzaa is an opportunity to incorporate elements of their particular ethnic heritage into holiday observances and celebrations of Christmas.

Cultural exhibitions include the Spirit of Kwanzaa, an annual celebration held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts featuring interpretive dance, African dance, song and poetry.[23][24][25]


A 2003 Kwanzaa celebration with Kwanzaa founder Maulana Karenga at center, and others.

The National Retail Federation has sponsored a marketing survey on winter holidays since 2004, and in 2015 found that 1.9% of those polled planned to celebrate Kwanzaa – about six million people.[26] In a 2006 speech, Maulana Karenga asserted that 28 million people celebrate Kwanzaa. He has always claimed it is celebrated all over the world.[1] Lee D. Baker puts the number at 12 million.[27] The African American Cultural Center claimed 30 million in 2009.[28][29]

According to University of Minnesota Professor Keith Mayes, the author of Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition, the popularity within the U.S. has "leveled off" as the black power movement there has declined, and as of 2009 between 500 thousand and two million Americans celebrated Kwanzaa, or between one and five percent of African Americans. Mayes added that white institutions now celebrate it.[16]

Starting in the 1990s, the holiday became increasingly commercialized, with the first Hallmark Card being sold in 1992,[30] and there has been concern about this damaging the holiday's values.[31] The holiday also saw a greater public recognition as the first Kwanzaa stamp, designed by Synthia Saint James, was issued by the United States Post Office in 1997, and in the same year Bill Clinton gave the first presidential declaration marking the holiday.[32][33]

The holiday has also spread to Canada and is celebrated by Black Canadians in a similar fashion as in the United States.[34] According to the Language Portal of Canada, "this fairly new tradition has [also] gained in popularity in France, Great Britain, Jamaica and Brazil".[35] Brazilian celebrations have been held in several cities.[36]

Stjepan Meštrović, a sociology professor at the Texas A&M University, sees Kwanzaa as an example of postmodernism. According to Meštrović, post-modernists in modern society may view "real" traditions as racist, sexist or otherwise oppressive, but since living in a world where nothing is true is too terrifying to most people, "nice" and "synthetic" traditions like Kwanzaa have been created to cope with the nihilistic, individualistic modern society.[37]

Maya Angelou narrated a documentary film about Kwanzaa, The Black Candle, written and directed by M.K. Asante, Jr. and featuring Chuck D, graduate of Goldsmiths university of London.[38][39]

See also

  • Dashiki – a shirt or suit worn during Kwanzaa celebrations


  1. ^ a b "Why Kwanzaa Video". "Maulana Karenga". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  2. ^ Alexander, Ron (December 30, 1983). "The Evening Hours". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2006.
  3. ^ Holly Hartman. "Kwanzaa – Honoring the values of ancient African cultures". Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Klein, Herbert S. (April 13, 1999). The Atlantic Slave Trade. Retrieved December 27, 2016 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Mugane, John M. (2015). The Story of Swahili. Ohio University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780896804890.
  6. ^ Mayes, Keith A. (2009). Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition. Routledge. p. 84. ISBN 9781135284008.
  7. ^ Mayes, Keith A. (2009). Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition. Routledge. p. 228. ISBN 9781135284015.
  8. ^ Mayes, Keith A. (2009). Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition. pp. 63–65. ISBN 978-0415998550. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Karenga, Maulana (1967). "Religion". In Clyde Halisi, James Mtume. The Quotable Karenga. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press. pp. 25. 23769.8.
  10. ^ Karenga, Maulana (1997). Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture. University of Sankore Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0943412214.
  11. ^ Williams, Lena (December 20, 1990). "In Blacks' Homes, the Christmas and Kwanzaa Spirits Meet". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  12. ^ Karenga, Maulana (2008). "Nguzo Saba". The Official Kwanzaa Web Site. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  13. ^ Angaza, Maitefa (2007). Kwanzaa – From Holiday to Every Day: A complete guide for making Kwanzaa a part of your life. New York: Dafina Books. p. 56. ISBN 0758216653.
  14. ^ "The Symbols of Kwanzaa". The Official Kwanzaa Website. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  15. ^ Raabe, Emily (2001). A Kwanzaa Holiday Cookbook. Rosen Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 978-0823956296.
  16. ^ a b Scott, Megan K. (December 17, 2009). "Kwanzaa celebrations continue, but boom is over, popularity fading". The Plain Dealer. Associated Press. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  17. ^ Bush, George W. (December 23, 2004). "Presidential Kwanzaa Message, 2004". Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved December 24, 2007.
  18. ^ "Clinton offers holiday messages". CNN. December 23, 1997. Retrieved December 24, 2007.
  19. ^ Gale, Elaine (December 26, 1998). "Appeal of Kwanzaa continues to grow; holidays: today marks start of the seven-day celebration of African culture, which began in Watts 32 years ago and is now observed by millions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 24, 2007.
  20. ^ "The Founder's Message 2000". The Official Kwanzaa Web Site. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  21. ^ "Useful Swahili phrases". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  22. ^ "Kwanzaa (until Jan 1) in the United States". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Spirit of Kwanzaa – The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  24. ^ "Dance Institute of Washington". February 21, 2001. Archived from the original on February 21, 2001. Retrieved October 25, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  25. ^ "Kwanzaa Featured on This Year's Holiday U.S. Postage Stamp". October 19, 2004. Archived from the original on October 19, 2004. Retrieved October 25, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  26. ^ "Prosper Insights & Analytics™, Monthly Consumer Survey" (PDF). National Retail Federation. October 2015.
  27. ^ Manning Marable, Dispatches from the Ebony Tower, p. 224.
  28. ^ "Kwanzaa celebration unites African-American community", The Post, Ohio University, November 1, 2011. Accessed December 31, 2014.
  29. ^ Mayes, Keith A. (2009). Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Black Holiday Tradition. Taylor & Francis. p. 248. ISBN 978-0415998543.
  30. ^ Martin, Douglas (December 20, 1993). "The Marketing of Kwanzaa; Black American Holiday Earns Dollars, Causing Concern". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  31. ^ "Commercialized Kwanzaa worries enthusiasts". The Billings Gazette. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  32. ^ "William J. Clinton: Message on the Observance of Kwanzaa, 1997". Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  33. ^ Pleck, Elizabeth (2001). "Kwanzaa: The Making of a Black Nationalist Tradition, 1966–1990". Journal of American Ethnic History. 20 (4): 3–28. JSTOR 27502744.
  34. ^ "The principles of Kwanzaa". CBC. December 28, 1993. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  35. ^ "Celebrate Kwanzaa!". Government of Canada. February 21, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  36. ^ "The rising popularity of Kwanzaa in Brazil: Festa in celebration of African heritage catching on in cities like Salvador and São Paulo". Black Women of Brazil. February 21, 2011. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  37. ^ S.G. Mestrovic (January 2000). "Postemotional Law". Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  38. ^ "Kwanzaa Celebration Captured In 'Black Candle'". National Public Radio. December 15, 2008.
  39. ^ "Chuck D and Maya Angelou in Kwanzaa Documentary". Essence. December 18, 2009.

External links

A Rugrats Kwanzaa

"A Rugrats Kwanzaa" is the 14th episode of the seventh season of the American animated television series Rugrats and the show's 143rd episode. Released as a Kwanzaa television special, it looks at the holiday from the perspective of toddler Susie Carmichael during a visit from her great-Aunt T. Susie and her friends—Tommy Pickles, Chuckie and Kimi Finster, and Phil and Lil Deville and family—learn about Kwanzaa from Aunt T. Susie becomes depressed after thinking she is the only member of her family not to achieve greatness. Aunt T consoles her by sharing her memories using a scrap book. The episode concludes with Susie realizing that she still has plenty of time in her life to discover what makes her great.

Anthony Bell directed the episode from a script by Lisa D. Hall, Jill Gorey, and Barbara Herndon. "A Rugrats Kwanzaa" was produced as part of Nickelodeon's commitment to feature cultural diversity in its programming. Some television critics compared it to similar holiday episodes by As Told by Ginger and The Proud Family. "A Rugrats Kwanzaa" was first broadcast on December 11, 2001, and later reaired at different events. A picture book entitled The Rugrats' First Kwanzaa was adapted from the script. The episode was released on VHS in 2001, and it was later included in other home media releases.

"A Rugrats Kwanzaa" was praised by critics for its inclusion and representation of the holiday and the voice acting; there was a more mixed response to its commercialism. Cree Summer, who voices Susie, earned a nomination for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Performance by a Youth at the 34th NAACP Image Awards for her role in the episode.

Glenn Grothman

Glenn S. Grothman (born July 3, 1955) from Campbellsport, Wisconsin is the Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Wisconsin's 6th congressional district. Grothman served in the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the 58th Assembly District from 1993 until 2005, served as the vice chair of the Assembly's Republican caucus from 1999 to 2004, and as a member of the Wisconsin Senate from the 20th district from 2005–15, and Assistant Majority Leader of the Wisconsin Senate from 2011-15.

Holiday stamp

Holiday stamps are a type of postage stamp issued to commemorate a particular religious festival or holiday.

Karamu (feast)

A Karamu Ya Imani (Feast of Faith) is a feast that takes place on December 31, the sixth day of the Kwanzaa period. A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast, a Karamu.

The Karamu feast was developed in Chicago during a 1971 citywide movement of Pan-African organizations. It was proposed by Hannibal Afrik of Shule ya Matoto as a communitywide promotonial and educational campaign. The initial Karamu Ya Imani occurred on January 1, 1973 at a 200-person gathering at the Ridgeland club.In 1992, the National Black United Front of Chicago held one of the largest Karamu Ya Imani celebrations in the country. It included dancing, a youth ensemble and a keynote speech by NBUF and prominent black nationalist leader Conrad Worrill.


The kinara is the candle holder used in Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States. During the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa, seven candles are placed in the kinara - three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. The word kinara is a Swahili word that means candle holder.

The seven candles represent the Seven Principles (or Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa. Red, green, and black are the symbolic colors of the holiday.

During the week of Kwanzaa, a new candle is lit on the kinara each day. The center black candle is lit first, and the lighting then proceeds from left to right, the new candle being lit corresponding to the principle of that day. In this way each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to the contemplation of one of the Seven Principles.

Each of the candles also has a meaning. The black one symbolizes the African people, the red their struggle, and the green the future and hope that comes from their struggle.

List of recurring Futurama characters

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Futurama has eight main cast members and many other incidental characters. For an overview of the show's main characters, see the list of Futurama characters.

Maulana Karenga

Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga, previously known as Ron Karenga, (born July 14, 1941) is an African-American professor of Africana studies, activist and author, best known as the creator of the pan-African and African-American holiday of Kwanzaa. Karenga was active in the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and co-founded with Hakim Jamal the black nationalism and social change organization US.

Born in Parsonsburg, Maryland to an African-American family, Karenga studied at Los Angeles City College and the University of California, Los Angeles. During his student years, he involved himself in activism and joined the Congress of Racial Equality. Through his activism, he became involved in violent clashes with the Black Panther Party. In 1971, he was convicted of felonious assault and false imprisonment. He was imprisoned in California Men's Colony until he received parole in 1975. He received his PhD shortly afterward and began a career in academia.

Olde Towne East

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Public holidays in Moldova

Public holidays in the Republic of Moldova are the celebrated non-working days established by the Government of the Republic of Moldova and valid for the whole territory of the country. Autonomous territorial units Gagauzia and Transnistria, as well cities, communes and cantonal authorities also establish local holidays, which are, however, not non-working days. There are 14 nationally celebrated holidays in the modern Moldova.

In the Republic of Moldova, most retail businesses close on New Year's and Independence Day, but remain open on all other holidays. Private businesses often observe only the big holidays (New Year's Day, Easter and Easter Monday, Victory Day (May 9), Independence Day, Labor Day, Limba Noastra, and Christmas).

Most holidays celebrated in the Republic of Moldova recognize events or people from History of Moldavia, although four are shared in common with many other countries: Christmas Day and New Year's Day, Victory Day (May 9) and Labour Day.

The holiday season in the winter traditionally ran between New Year's Day until Old new Year's Day. As of 2009, the holiday season now officially begins with Western Christmas on December 25, now a legal holiday in the Republic of Moldova. The holiday seasons gets underway much earlier with the official lighting of the Chisinau town Christmas tree at the end of November or very beginning of December when other than Christmas, some locals celebrate Winter solstice, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

Summer holiday season traditionally (though unofficially) starts in May with celebrations of anniversary of most important localities (Bălţi - 21 May) and culminates in the end of August with the successive celebrations of Independence Day of the Republic of Moldova and Limba Noastra.

Quonset hut

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Sandra Lee (chef)

Sandra Lee Christiansen (born July 3, 1966) is an American television chef and author. She is known for her "Semi-Homemade" cooking concept, which Lee describes as using 70 percent pre-packaged products and 30 percent fresh items. She is the de facto First Lady of New York as the partner of 56th and current governor Andrew Cuomo.

Seven Spools of Thread

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story is a picture book published in 2000 and written by Angela Shelf Medearis with illustrations by Daniel Minter. The book tells the story of seven Ashanti brothers who must learn to work together, while also demonstrating the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Suckin' It for the Holidays

Suckin' It for the Holidays is a Grammy-nominated comedy album recorded at Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey by American stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin. It was released solely online shortly before the Grammy nominations cut-off, in her second attempt to win the award. Her first comedy album, For Your Consideration, did receive a best comedy album nomination in 2008 but George Carlin posthumously won the award for It's Bad for Ya.

Despite the title, Suckin' It for the Holidays, is not a holiday album, although Kwanzaa is mentioned briefly. Griffin addresses many of her favorite subjects, including the foibles of celebrities and people who appear on reality television.

Synthia Saint James

Synthia Saint James (born February 11, 1949) is an American visual artist, author, keynote speaker, and educator who is best known for the original cover art of the hardcover edition of Terry McMillan's book Waiting to Exhale and for designing the first Kwanzaa stamp for the United States Postal Service, which was first issued in 1997. She also designed the 2016 Kwanzaa Forever Stamp.

The Black Candle

The Black Candle is a documentary film about Kwanzaa directed by M. K. Asante and narrated by Maya Angelou. The film premiered on cable television on Starz on November, 2012.

The Futurama Holiday Spectacular

"The Futurama Holiday Spectacular", originally titled "Holiday Val-U-Pak", is the thirteenth episode of the sixth season of the animated sitcom Futurama and is the 101st episode of the series. It originally aired as a holiday special on November 21, 2010, before the remaining episodes of Season 6 were broadcast in 2011. The episode features three self-contained segments, sponsored by the fictitious product "Gunderson's Unshelled Nuts". The first segment is based on "Xmas" (pronounced as "eks-mas"; a version of Christmas present in the 31st century), in which the long-extinct pine tree species is revived, but due to seed contamination grow out of control. The second segment is based on "Robanukah" (a holiday based on Chanukah, made-up by Bender to avoid work), in which Bender leads the crew on a search for petroleum oil in order for him to celebrate the holiday. In the third and final segment, the Planet Express crew go in search of beeswax, in order to create traditional beeswax candles for Kwanzaa.

Each segment features recurring elements, including an environmental theme, a song, and ending in which most or all of the main characters either die or face certain death. Al Gore reprises his role as his own head in a jar in all three segments. Coolio reprises his role as Kwanzaabot in the third segment. Series producer David X. Cohen has compared the episode to The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" series.

The Hebrew Hammer

The Hebrew Hammer is a 2003 American comedy film written and directed by Jonathan Kesselman. It stars Adam Goldberg, Judy Greer, Andy Dick, Mario Van Peebles, and Peter Coyote. The plot concerns a Jewish blaxploitation crime fighter known as the Hebrew Hammer who must save Hanukkah from the evil son of Santa Claus, who wants to destroy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and make everyone celebrate Christmas.

The film parodies blaxploitation films, and features Melvin Van Peebles in a cameo as "Sweetback".

US Organization

US Organization, or Organization Us, is a Black nationalist group in the United States founded in 1965. It was established as a community organization by Hakim Jamal together with Maulana Karenga. It was a rival to the Black Panther Party in California. One of the early slogans was, "Anywhere we are US is." "US" referred to "[us] black people" in opposition to their perceived oppressors ("them").


Ujamaa ('familyhood' in Swahili) was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere's social and economic development policies in Tanzania after it gained independence from Britain in 1961.

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