The Principles of Kwanzaa

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kwanzaainsideKwanzaa is an African-American holiday that celebrates and honors Black history and culture. It takes place Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 and was first celebrated in 1966. The name “Kwanzaa” comes from the name of a river in Angola. Similar to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa has a candle-lighting ceremony for each day that is observed. There is one black candle, three red candles and three green candles, which are held in a kinara. This celebration is based on seven principles, each identified by a Swahili word and recognized on a different day:

  • The first day of Kwanzaa is based on the principle of “Umoja”  which means unity, particularly in the community and family. This day of unity is to promote strength and solidarity among Black people. 
  • The second day observes “Kujichagulia”, or self-determination and it is representative of the Black community’s need to control their own lives and carve their own paths. 
  • The third day is for “Ujima”- collective work and responsibility. In this principle, observers are encouraged to work together toward common goals. 
  • The fourth day recognizes “Ujamaa”, which means cooperative economics. This principle speaks to the idea that Black-owned businesses should be developed and sustained by the community.
  • The fifth day of Kwanzaa is for “Nia” or purpose. This day is celebrated as a commitment to restoration of African-American families and people to their historical greatness.
  • “Kuumba” or creativity is observed on the sixth day of Kwanzaa and it encourages its people to be visionaries, not only in the arts but also in the culture and nation.
  • The seventh and final day of Kwanzaa recognizes “Imani” which means faith. With this principle, people are inspired to believe in their families, neighbors and leaders as they move forward in life.

Kwanzaa may be an African-American holiday traditionally, but since its birth it has evolved and now people all over the world celebrate it. Happy Kwanzaa!
 
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