December 26 till January 1

Who celebrates Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a holiday that originated with Swahili people and now anyone can celebrates.

When is it celebrated?

Kwanzaa is celebrated on Saturday, December 26th at 6pm to Friday, January 1st.

How did it orginated?

It was created in 1966, after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, looked for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. Karenga founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African "first fruit" (harvest) celebrations. He combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

Is it a Religious holiday?

Many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas. Though often thought of as an alternative to Christmas, many people actually celebrate both. “Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but a cultural one with an inherent spiritual quality,” Karenga writes. “Thus, Africans of all faiths can and do celebrate Kwanzaa."

What are the Customs?

During Kwanzaa, a special candle holder called a kinara is used. A kinara hold seven candles, three red ones on the left, three green ones on the right with a black candle in the centrer. Each night during Kwanzaa a candle is lit. The black, centre, candle is lit first and the it alternates between the red and green candles stating with the ones on the outside and moving inwards. This is quite similar to the lighting of the menorah in the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukkah

The Seven Principles of Kwanza: ( Nguzo Saba )

  • Umoja: Unity - Unity of the family, community, nation and race
  • Kujichagulia: Self-Determination - Being responsible for your own conduct and behaviour
  • Ujima: Collective work and responsibility - Working to Help each other and in the community
  • Ujamaa: Cooperative economics - Working to build shops and businesses
  • Nia: Purpose - Remembering and restoring African and African American cultures, customs and history
  • Kuumba: Creativity - Using creating and your imagination to make communities better
  • Imani: Faith - Believing in people, families, leaders, teachers and the righteousness of the African American struggle