Kwanzaa traditions

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration that begins on December 26 and ends on January 1. Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates one of seven core principles that are based on ancient customs of Africa. Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday; it was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Korenga to reaffirm African culture and heritage and is based on the first fruit harvest celebrations of Africa.

Here are the seven days of Kwanzaa and the traditions celebrated each day.

Umoja – A celebration of unity in the circles of one’s life including family, friends and the community as well as the African population at large.

Kujichagulia – Self-determination and creating and speaking for oneself.

Ujima – Collective work and responsibility in which communities are built and maintained and problems are solved through the collective.

Ujamaa – Cooperative economics including building and supporting local businesses and creating an economic network within the community.

Nia – Purpose, in which the community is at the core of the culture.

Kuumba – Creativity, which can be expressed in many ways and at many different levels, which helps enrich the community.

Imani – Faith and a belief in self and all members of the community.

Decorations for Kwanzaa are often homemade, which tie in with the principle of Kuumba (creativity). Kwanzaa colors are red, black and green and a candle holder called the kinara, holds seven candles, which are lit on the respective days of celebration.

The Kwanzaa feast takes place on December 31 and often features stews with sides of okra and black beans and rice. Other popular dishes prepared for Kwanzaa include Kunde (black-eyed peas and tomatoes) and Kuku Paka (chicken in coconut and tomato sauce).

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