Happy Kwanzaa

Posted On December 29, 2009

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Not a religious holiday, Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday about the festival of the first harvest of the crops. It begins on December 26, and lasts for seven days.

The name Kwanzaa, sometimes spelled Kwanza, comes from a phrase which means “first fruits” in Swahili, an East African language.

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring African heritage and culture, marked by participants lighting a kinara (candle holder). It is observed from December 26 to January 1 each year, primarily in the United States. Kwanzaa is considered one of the primary holidays within the U.S. Christmas and holiday season.

Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and pouring of libations, and culminating in a feast and gift giving. It was created by Ron Karenga and was first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967.

The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, meaning “first fruits”. The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s.

The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) > Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa honors a different principle. These principles are believed to have been key to building strong, productive families and communities in Africa. During Kwanzaa, celebrants greet each other with “Habari gani,” or “What’s the news?”

Colorful Celebrations > Families gather for the great feast of Karamu on December 31. Karamu may be held at a home, community center, or church. Celebrants enjoy traditional African dishes as well as those featuring ingredients Africans brought to the United States, such as sesame seeds (benne), peanuts (groundnuts), sweet potatoes, collard greens, and spicy sauces.

Especially at Karamu, Kwanzaa is celebrated with red, black, and green. These three colors were important symbols in ancient Africa that gained new recognition through the efforts of Marcus Garvey’s Black Nationalist movement. Green is for the fertile land of Africa; black is for the color of the people; and red is the for the blood that is shed in the struggle for freedom.

The Seven Symbols > Celebrants decorate with red, black, and green as well as African-style textiles and art. At the heart of Kwanzaa imagery, however, are the seven symbols.

Learn more about Kwanzaa >
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa

http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml

http://www.tike.com/welcome.htm

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