Though many Americans don’t know much about Kwanzaa, it is a holiday that all can share in.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 through January 1st.
Established by Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a holiday that honors African heritage and celebrates family, community and culture. It takes its name from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which in Swahili means “first fruits.”
Kwanzaa’s origin lies in the 1960s civil rights and Black Freedom movements, and is a way of commemorating the African heritage of black Americans whose ethnic history was stripped away by the slave trade. Swahili is the most widely spoken African language, and was thus chosen as the language of Kwanzaa’s principles.
According to Karenga, “Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture.” It is a cultural rather than religious holiday, and can be celebrated regardless of a person’s faith tradition.
“First fruits” celebrations date back to ancient Egypt and Nubia, and commemorate the harvest.
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