The Kwanzaa Holiday: A Cultural Celebration
Unlike Christmas and Hanukkah, the Kwanzaa holiday is not a religious celebration. Kwanzaa was created as a means of identifying and affirming cultural traditions and principles within the African-American community. Celebrated for seven days, from December 26 through January 1, Kwanzaa is a gathering of friends and family where stories, customs, meals and decorations are shared in honor of a common history and shared future. Use The Kwanzaa Holiday Web Guide to learn about the founding of Kwanzaa and how you can celebrate.
Kwanzaa History and Traditions
Because Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, there are many opportunities for creating and fostering new Kwanzaa traditions. The following sites explain Kwanzaa history, including why it was created, the basic principles that go into the seven days of celebration and how you can customize your own Kwanzaa celebration.
Insights for Kwanzaa History and Traditions
- Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili, the most widely spoken African language. Its name is meant to draw together all African people under the common celebration of the harvest.
- If you want to learn more about the history and full celebration of Kwanzaa, "The Complete Kwanzaa: Celebrating Our Cultural Harvest" by D. Winbush Riley offers a thorough background .
Top Sites for Kwanzaa History and Traditions
The Official Kwanzaa Web Site is hosted and maintained by the official creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga. The founder explains his reasons for creating the tradition and outlines the true purpose of the celebration. Learn about the seven days that reflect the seven core values of the holiday, and other origins, concepts, symbols and practices of Kwanzaa.
History.com presents an entire section devoted to Kwanzaa, with historical information and explanations of the specific symbols and traditions chosen for this cultural holiday. Watch the video clip for a detailed history of Kwanzaa, featuring images of people celebrating with traditional clothes and decorations.
PBS presents an extensive interview with Dr. Karenga as he discusses the Million Man March, the struggles of black Americans and their leadership, and the creation of Kwanzaa.
This section focuses on the specific traditions associated with participating in, or hosting, a ... read more »
Kwanzaa Food and Recipes
Food plays a central role in the Kwanzaa celebration, particularly at the Karamu feast ... read more »
Bring Kwanzaa symbols into your home while honoring the sixth principle of Kwanzaa: ... read more »