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Kwanzaa Facts, History, Traditions

The holiday celebrated primarily in the African-American community began in 1966

The cultural holiday of Kwanzaa actually has its roots in the ashes of riot.

It was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of black studies at Cal State Long Beach.

Following the 1965 Watts riots, Karenga was searching for a way to bring African-Americans together as a community, according to an article on history.com.

The professor researched African "first fruit" harvest festivals. He combined aspects of several different cultures, including the Zulu and Ashanti, and formed Kwanzaa.

The cultural holiday begins every year on Dec. 26 and lasts for seven days.

The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase that means "first fruits."

Families celebrate Kwanzaa in different ways, but most involve songs, dances, drums and storytelling.

On each of the seven nights, a child lights a candle and one of the seven Kwanzaa principles slated for that evening is discussed.

Those principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

For more on Kwanzaa traditions, click here.

cat December 26, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I am not into celbrating Kwanzaa because its just too new. 1966 is less than 50 years ago and many blacks dont celibrate iT; although many of us still make Chitterlings and Gumbo on Jan 1st.(the same day italians make Cioppino) I even believe Dr. King didnt celebrate it, maybe his kids do, IDK.
MIKE ALFORD December 26, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Well Cat Is right ---- Dr. King Didnt Celebrate it this Was a made up holiday by Ron Mckinley Evertt (Ron Maulana Karenga) & His buddie (Hakim Jamal) A black Nationalist back in 1966 ---- it is a first harvest in parts of Afirca ---- It Has nothing to do with Religion and Dr. King was a Man of God And a Great Leader for all of Mankind
Chris J Kapsalis December 27, 2012 at 12:30 AM
So Kwanzaa is new. Christmas was once new as well. To each their own. We ( Our family) only celebrates Christmas on Christmas. Becky also celibrates in a pagan way, who some argue were the origanators of Christmas. Some celibrate other ways. Some celebrate this, or that. But I respect all peoples right to celebrate what they think is important this time of year. That is what America is about. There is more than one reason for the season in my opinion. Maybe the best reason, and also a teaching of Jesus, is to love thy neighbor. Bring people together. And to respect all others, even not like yourself, even those who do not believe as you do. I am an atheist btw, but I love a lot of the spirit of Jesus Christ, and teachings, and other teachings. I think the world needs to listen to these more, and actually love thy neighbor , and respect all beliefs equally, beliefs that promote peace. And there was a time that Christianity was only 50 years old as well, that did not make it less valid imo.
Dive Turn Work December 27, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Who cares if someone celebrates or doesn't celebrate Kwanzaa. Mind your own dang business. Jeez Louise.
CJ December 27, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Kwanzaa deserves the same respect as Festivus.
Triple Canopy December 27, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Merry Hannukwanzmas!! Howz that for inclusivity?

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