First Day of Kwanzaa

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December 26: First Day of Kwanzaa

For seven days beginning on December 26 and lasting through January 1, African Americans celebrate Kwanza, a relatively new holiday introduced in 1966 and named for the time of year when African tribes traditionally celebrated the first harvest of their crops. During Kwanza, people decorate their homes with straw mats, ears of corn, and a candleholder called a kinara. They light a candle in the home each evening and may exchange homemade gifts. The seven-day celebration ends with a feast, usually held at a community center and featuring music and dancing. This spiritual holiday focuses on seven basic principles: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).