The Christmas season is a time for giving gratitude, spending time with family and friends, and planning for the future. For those who are celebrating Kwanzaa, this holiday period is over, and the new year starts with an event that celebrates pan-African cultures and histories. The observers light candles, remember the most important principles and ideals, and enjoy time with their loved ones from December 26 to January 1.
Check out this article when you’re preparing to host your very initial Kwanzaa holiday celebration or require a refresher on some of the terms used during the holiday. From the source of the name of the holiday to the seven basic principles and symbols, it’s the language you must learn to master Kwanzaa.
What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa Kwanzaa is a relatively new event. Professor, scholar, and political activist Maulana Karenga invented Kwanzaa early in his career when he had turned just 25. In the process, he brought elements from many African harvest celebrations to emphasize the strength and values of the African-American population, including the struggle for equality, self-determination, and justice. In a 2008 interview in the newspaper, Karenga said he created the celebration to “give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history.”
Kwanzaa is an occasion to celebrate African culture and heritage. Black culture. It’s also intended to oppose celebrations that focus on consumerism and mainstream culture. While it’s the most widely observed holiday by people in the United States, people in the African diaspora are celebrating Kwanzaa in other regions of the world, too. According to a study conducted in 2012, around four percent of Americans said they were having a celebration of Kwanzaa–which could be greater than 12.5 million people.
The word “holiday” originates directly from the Swahili word “kwanza,” which means “first, firstly,” and refers to the Swahili saying matunda ya Kwanza or “first fruits of the harvest.” Karenga utilized African festivals of the harvest to make Kwanzaa due to the communal elements that contribute to the success of the crop, which are elements that help to build and sustain strong communities.
Kwanzaa is the name of the holiday. It is a holiday with an extra word -a added at the end to the initial Swahili word. It’s believed that this additional letter was added to make sure that all seven children who attended the initial Kwanzaa events in the year 1966 could be given an initial letter. The number makes sense since seven has an extremely important position in Kwanzaa ceremonies and is also a common theme throughout the holiday. The seven-day celebration includes Kwanzaa as well as seven symbolisms, seven candles in the traditions (more on this later), and seven fundamental values that are centered around family and the community.
What is HTML0? Kwanzaa is observed
Kwanzaa can be a part of the Christmas time across the US, as are Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah, as well as Christmas and New Day of the Year. It’s a secular holiday, which means it isn’t associated with any organized religion. In reality, those celebrating Kwanzaa typically observe one or more other festivals in the course of the season.
The seven fundamentals that comprise Kwanzaa
This seven-day celebration is governed according to the Seven Principles (or Nguzu Saba) of Kwanzaa and is usually referred to by their Swahili word. Each principle has a specific day dedicated to it and a debate about what it means. These seven rules are
- Umoja (unity)
- Kujichagulia (self-determination)
- Ujima (collective responsibility and accountability)
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
- Nia (purpose)
- Kuumba (creativity)
- Imani (faith)
The people greet each other throughout the seven days during Kwanzaa by using the Swahili way of asking, “What is the news?”: habari gani. The response expected is the main idea for the entire day (for instance, “Umoja” on the first day).
The details of the way that families celebrate Kwanzaa can differ. However, the gatherings of families, music, and stories are common. Seven symbols are a further commonality. The most prominent symbol is the seven candles ( mishumaa saba), which play a significant function throughout the holiday. Three green candles, one black candle, and three red candles are set inside the form of a kinara candle holder, also known as a kinara. Corn ears (mehndi), gifts (Zawadi), mats (Akaka), a crop (maza), and a ritual unity cup known as Kikombe cha Umoja are also significant symbolisms.
The second day to the last day of Kwanzaa occurs on New Year’s Day. The celebration is known as Karamu, and people are able to celebrate by drinking, food, and music. On either Karamu or the last day of Kwanzaa Imani, children give gifts called Zawadi, which are made by hand or bought from black-owned businesses.
What’s the significance behind the candlelights during Kwanzaa?
A very significant Kwanzaa ceremony centers around the candles. The black candle always sits at the center of the table, whereas those with red flames are placed on the left, and the green candles are on the right. Marcus Garvey listed these colors as a representation of the people from the African diaspora. Red is a symbol of struggle, black is the population, and green represents the future.
Each day prior to lighting the candles, everyone in the family gathers. Then, the family begins the ceremony with tambiko, an African way of expressing gratitude to their ancestral ancestors. The elder of the house pours drinks (either non-alcoholic or alcoholic) out of the cup for unity ( kikombe cha umoja) and then says an expression of gratitude to loved ones and relatives who have passed away. After that, they consume wine, juice, or spirit from Kikombe Cha Umoja and then pass it on to other people to drink the same.
The lighting of the candle is an opportunity for families to talk about the meaning behind the principle that the candle represents. The black candle was lit on the day that first begins, December 26, and the rest of the candles will be lit according to an alternate left-to-right pattern every day until the conclusion of Kwanzaa on January 1.