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What is the Holiday Of Kwanzaa About?

Dillion Sullivan

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There are three main holidays in the month of December: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, which nobody really knows about. Kwanzaa is a holiday in which African people celebrate their heritage. Most people mistake Kwanzaa with holidays like Hanukkah, but the difference is you don’t receive gifts. People who celebrate this holiday eat cultural food, play cultural music, and dance traditional dances. It is a seven day celebration and each day celebrates the principals of their culture. The days go from December 26th, 2016 to January 1st, 2017.


Each day of Kwanzaa celebrates one Nguzo Saba or seven principles of Kwanzaa. They are Umoja which means unity (celebrated on first day), Kujichagulia which means self-determination (celebrated on second day), Ujima which means working together (celebrated on third day), Ujamaa which means supporting each other (celebrated on fourth day), Nia which means purpose (celebrated on fifth day), Kuumba is creativity (celebrated on sixth day), and Imani means faith especially faith in ourselves (celebrated on seventh day).

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. There is one black candle, three red, and three green candles. Mishumaa Saba, or the seven candles, are symbolic of Nguzo Saba. They are held in a kinara. Three of the candles are green, three of them are red and the one in the center is black. The black candle represents the first principle Umoja (unity) and is placed in the center of the kinara. The red candles represent the principles of Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujamaa (cooperative economics) and Kuumba (creativity) and are placed to the left of the black candle. The green candles represent the principles of Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Nia (purpose) and Imani(faith) and are placed to the right of the black candle.


The food eaten at kwanzaa are many traditional dishes that all are based of crops grown in Africa. These dishes include beef and groundnut stew, corn sticks, pinto beans and rice, sweet potato biscuits, and many more things ranging from yassa chicken to coconut cake. There is traditional music such as drum beating played and traditional dances.


On the first day the black candle is lit and the family passes around the Unity cup and drink the fruit juice that fills it. On each day the unity cup is passed around and after it is drunk, the candles are extinguished, but before the unity cup tradition the member of the family that lit the candle gives a speech on the word that the day is celebrating. On the second day the leftmost red candle is lit after the black one. On the third day the rightmost candle is lit and the process of the unity cup is repeated. On the fourth day the red candle placed in the center of the left side is lit. On the fifth the center of the right side of candles is lit. Next the candle directly left of the black candle is lit. Finally on the seventh day the green candle closest to the black candle is lit. The seventh day is the day with most celebration and a giant feast is held for the whole community.


To sum it up, Kwanzaa is an American holiday to celebrate the African heritage. The holiday is celebrated for seven days; December 26th to January 1st; and each day celebrates a different principle. On each day a traditional celebration is held where the people feast on traditional foods and dance to cultural music. Kwanzaa is a holiday that not many people know and instead of giving presents like christmas or hanukkah the people celebrate their heritage.


(Getty images)


Caption: This is a typical setup of a typical kinara with fresh fruits and crops and a unity cup(left). As you can see there are three red candles, three green candles and a black candle. Three of the candles are lit meaning it is the third day of kwanzaa celebrating Ujima (working together).


Caption: These are the seven candles with their principles.

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What is the Holiday Of Kwanzaa About?