Kwanzaa Facts

Kwanzaa Facts
Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration that focuses on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. It is celebrated daily from December 26 to January 1. See the fact file below for more information.
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  • Kwanzaa is celebrated daily from December 26 to January 1.
  • Kwanzaa (Swahili for “fresh fruits”) is based on an African harvest festival. The karamu, or feast, is held on December 31 and one of the high points of Kwanzaa.
  • Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga, a professor of black studies at California State University at Long Beach, in 1966. It is a nonreligious, nonpolitical celebration of family and social values for African American families.
  • Gifts are given during Kwanzaa. These gifts must always include a book, to emphasize the African tradition of learning stressed since ancient Egypt, and a heritage symbol, to reinforce and reaffirm the commitment to history and tradition.
  • The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green. Also decorations should include traditional African items such as African baskets, cloth patterns, art objects, and harvest symbols.
  • Kwanzaa has seven basic symbols and two alternative ones. Each represents values and concepts reflective of African culture and contributive to community building and reinforcement.
  • Since its founding in 1966, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more then million people worldwide, as reported by the New York Times.
  • When establishing Kwanzaa in 1966, Dr. Karenga included an additional “a” to the end of the spelling to reflect the difference between the African American celebration (Kwanzaa) and the Motherland spelling (Kwanza).
  • People celebrating Kwanzaa use glow-sticks, whistles and party-poppers to create a festive atmosphere. Loot bags and prizes are also part of the celebration along with many traditional foods, costumes and decorations.