Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held at the end of December in the Americas in honor of the African Diaspora. Created in 1966, the holiday celebrates African heritage and is meant to help people reconnect with their African heritages. The seven days of Kwanzaa correspond to different principles that are meant to be reflected upon and practiced that day:
- Umoja (unity): meant for reflecting on, striving for, and maintaining unity among families, communities, and nations
- Kujichagulia (self-determination): a day meant for defining and naming who you are as a person along with creating and speaking for yourself
- Ujima (collective work & responsibility): a day meant for building up and maintaining communities as well as reaching out and helping solve the problems of others
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics): a day meant to aid with the building and maintenance of shops, businesses, and stores as well as earning a profit as a community from such endeavors
- Nia (Purpose): meant to help develop the community and helping people, communities, and nations return to their former glory
- Kuumba (creativity): meant to remind people to lend their creativity in endeavors that leave their communities more beautiful than before
- Imani (faith): meant to remind people to believe in the strength of African communities and in the righteousness of their struggle.
During the week of Kwanzaa, households are decorated in traditional African decorations and art. Families gather together with people of all ages to discuss the principle of the day, a reflection on a chapter of African history and the Pan-African colors, a candle-lighting ritual, a feast, and artistic performances.
The colors associated with this holiday are black, red, and green, and gifts are occasionally given to celebrate the commitments of parents raising children. The kinara (the candle holder) reminds those celebrating the holiday of their ancestral ties to one (or possibly more) of the 54 countries of Africa. The candles are used to remind people of the seven principles of the holiday along with the colors of the flags used in the African liberation movement.
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For more information, here are some helpful websites:
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As an recent college graduate who studied media studies and anthropology in college, Briana Maddox enjoys learning about different cultures, traditions, holidays, historical figures, experiences, and opinions. With a vested interest in sharing such learning experiences, Briana created Life & Anthropology in the hopes of helping other people gain a better understanding and working knowledge of such topics.