ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — You’ve heard about Kwanzaa, but does the seven-day celebration really mean?
What Kwanzaa is: Kwanzaa is a seven-day pan-African celebration that encourages those who celebrate to embody seven principles integrating family, community and culture.
What Kwanzaa is not: Although Kwanzaa starts right after Christmas and runs through New Year’s Day, it is not a religious celebration. People of all faiths are welcome to take part in the traditions.
When was Kwanzaa created? Dr. Maulana Karenga started the celebration in 1966. Dr. Karenga’s background is in Black Studies.
How do you celebrate Kwanzaa? Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili, and each day is represented by the Nguzo Saba – the seven principles.
- Umoja: Unity
- Kujichagulia: Self-determination
- Ujima: Collective work and responsibility
- Ujamaa: Cooperative economics
- Nia: Purpose
- Kuumba: Creativity
- Imani: Faith
Each night, one candle is lit on the Kinara. Those celebrating discuss the Nguzo Saba during this time.
The Kinara has three red candles that represent struggle and three green candles that represent land and hope for the future. The center candle is black, and it represents people of African descent.
Families also celebrate with gifts, known as Zawadi. Handmade gifts are encouraged.
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