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What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is celebrated in the United States from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

The seven-day festival of Kwanzaa, which celebrates African-American heritage and culture, starts Wednesday, Dec. 26 and ends Tuesday, Jan. 1. Here are some facts about the week-long holiday.

  • Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now chair of California State University Long Beach's Department of Africana Studies, in what he called "an audacious act of self-determination."
  • The name "Kwanzaa" comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits."
  • Kwanzaa's focus is the "Nguzo Saba," or the Seven Principles—unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
  • During the week, a candelabrum called a Kinara is lit, and ears of corn representing each child in the family are placed on a traditional straw mat.
  • African foods such as millet, spiced pepper balls and rice are often served. Some people fast during the holiday and a feast is often held on its final night.
  • A flag with three bars—red for the struggle for freedom, black for unity, and green for the future—is sometimes displayed during the holiday.
  • Kwanzaa is based on the theory of Kawaida, which espouses that social revolutionary change for black America can be achieved by exposing blacks to their cultural heritage.
  • A poll commissioned by the National Retail Federation and conducted by BIGresearch from Oct. 4 to Oct. 11 found that 2 percent of the 8,585 adults surveyed said they would celebrate Kwanzaa, compared to 90.5 percent who celebrate Christmas and 5.4 percent who celebrate Hanukkah.

Tell Us: Do you have any facts about Kwanzaa that you would like to share? Please write them in the comments section below.

This list was compiled with information from City News Service.

Mike O'Neill December 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Kwanzaa is a made up holiday. I work with guys from africa that have been in this country for a while and still don't even understand what it is and don't celebrate it.
Wayne Resident December 26, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Mike- that is because it celebrates African-American heritage, not African heritage. Every holiday was "made up" at one point. Your comment is probably not intended to be mean, but it comes off as very rude.
John C. Manton December 26, 2012 at 05:21 PM
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" -- Stephen G. Tallentyre a.k.a. Evelyn Beatrice Hall, (1868 – after 1939).
Susan December 26, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Karenga is was a convicted felon. Check his wikipedia page and that of his Organization_US organization. Is this a person fit to celebrate? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maulana_Karenga http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organization_Us From the latter.. "In 1971, Karenga, Louis Smith, and Luz Maria Tamayo were convicted of felony assault and imprisoned for assaulting and torturing two women members of US, Deborah Jones and Gail Davis. A May 14, 1971, article in the Los Angeles Times described the testimony of one of the women: "Deborah Jones,said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vise. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said. They also were hit on the heads with toasters."[7] At Karenga's trial, the question of his sanity arose. A psychiatrist's report stated the following: "This man now represents a picture which can be considered both paranoid and schizophrenic with hallucinations and illusions, inappropriate affect, disorganization, and impaired contact with the environment." He was sentenced to 1-to-10 years in prison on counts of felonious assault and false imprisonment.
Mercer Redcross December 27, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Kwanzaa is a spiritual, festive and joyous celebration of the a people. It brings people together. That's a good thing. I'm for anything good.
Pietro Barbieri December 27, 2012 at 11:35 PM
That rendition of the creation is a LIE. It was created by a convicted serial sadistic torturer with the original name Ron Everett. Changed his name but not his game. He owns most of the patent/copyright right to the holiday ornaments and makes tons-o-money on the deal. Yeah capitalism.
Mildred Roberts December 28, 2012 at 05:48 AM
Wait...Hallmark sells Kwanzaa cards, so it must be real.
muthafukkajones January 01, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966. It was created for blacks to celebrate an alternative to the existing holiday.... From wiki. All of these years and saying that there is prejudice against blacks, but they continue to create the issue as they continually come up with "black-specific" situations,,, I.e. holidays. Organizations, pageants, Etc...
Eve January 01, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. I can understand that all people from Africa, like Egyptians, do not celebrate Kwanzaa.
Ike January 01, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Yes , while looking for cards i was surpised of all the different kinds they had.There is like one for everything that can happen to you , and every kind of day.
Eve January 01, 2013 at 05:19 PM
I agree that most holidays are made up. If I get a day or 2 off - works for me. I am Christian and celebrate the Christian Holidays. According to the Jehovah's Witnesses:One of the more well-known practices of the Jehovah's Witnesses is their non-celebration of holidays. All holidays, including birthdays, are considered "pagan holidays" and may not be observed by Witnesses. The official website of the Jehovah's Witnesses explains: Jesus never commanded Christians to celebrate his birth. Rather, he told his disciples to memorialize, or remember, his death. (Luke 22:19, 20) Christmas and its customs come from ancient false religions. The same is true of Easter customs, such as the use of eggs and rabbits. The early Christians did not celebrate Christmas or Easter, nor do true Christians today. The only two birthday celebrations spoken of in the Bible were held by persons who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21, 22, 24-27) The early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. The custom of celebrating birthdays comes from ancient false religions. True Christians give gifts and have good times together at other times during the year.
John C. Manton January 01, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Der Bezug von der Heiligen Schrift lässt nicht Sie korrigieren. Ihre Position ist eine der Meinung, nicht einer Tatsache. Es gibt viele Interpretationen der Heiligen Schrift. Das ist, warum wir viele Kirchen haben.
Ike January 02, 2013 at 02:33 PM
John , at least write in Spanish, iam sure we can press 2 to change it to english. Yea , very bad english , (like the kind i write, said the sista)
John C. Manton January 02, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Wenn ich auf Deutsch schreibe, werde ich verletzt. Ich fand den Jehovah's Witness zu starrsinnig für mich. Sie gedeihen auf das Stoßen ihrer Religion auf anderen Leuten. Die spanische Sprache muss jetzt zur Deutschen Sprache nachgeben.
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