Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Culture and Community

Kwanzaa is a holiday relatively unknown for girls and families that don't usually observe it. We certainly don't see Kwanzaa decorations at Kroger's or hear Kwanzaa carols on the radio--so what is it? Each year from December 26 through January 1, many African-Americans observe Kwanzaa as a celebration of life, culture and community.

Kwanzaa was introduced by Dr. Maulana Karenga, an African-American studies professor, in 1966. The holiday is very similar to Thanksgiving, or the Yam Festival, which celebrates a good harvest, or having plenty, in Nigeria.

Fun facts about Kwanzaa:

The word "kwanza" is a KiSwahili (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) word meaning "first".

Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment and celebration.

The symbols of Kwanzaa includes crops (mzao) which represents the historical roots of African-Americans in agriculture and also the reward for collective labor.

Ways to celebrate Kwanzaa

At the beginning of a celebration, greet everyone by saying "Habari gani" which is Kiswahili for "how are you/how's the news with you?"

Kwanzaa is a time of thanksgiving, and one way we show how grateful we are for someone is by exchanging gifts with them.

Traditionally celebrated on December 31, you can celebrate with a banquet of food, often various African dishes.

Learn more on how to celebrate Kwanzaa.