Kawanzaa!

Kawanzaa!

Have you ever heard of the holiday Kwanzaa? It’s from a Swahili word meaning “first fruits”. The name Kwanzaa was made from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza”. “Both the name and the celebration were devised in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University in Long Beach and an important figure in Afrocentrism.”  He created Kwanzaa as a way to unite and empower the African community. Well, after the deadly Watts Riots that occurred in 1965 happened, his idea of Kwanzaa Sparked. This holiday has often been viewed as an alternative to Christmas, but it is not. This holiday is cultural rather than religious. “Karenga borrowed the word kwanza, meaning “first,” from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, adding the seventh letter, an extra a, to make the word long enough to accommodate one letter for each of the seven children present at an early celebration.”

Kwanzaa is an African celebration of life, and it’ celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Similar to Christmas they give gifts, and the way they celebrate involve dancing, singing, gift giving, African drums, Storytelling, Poetry reading, and a large traditional feast. Since this holiday is celebrated for seven days, on each of those seven days the family gets together and one of the children or parents gets to light one of the seven candles. “These families get creative when they decorate their houses, the will often decorate them with fruits, a black, red and green flag, and a Kinara” – a candle holder that holds seven candles. Kwanzaa is all in all a unique and interesting holiday!