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What Is Kwanzaa?

The holiday 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, began Monday. Here are some facts about the holiday.

  • Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now chair of Cal State Long Beach's Department of Africana Studies, in what he called "an audacious act of self-determination."
  • Kwanzaa's focus is the "Nguzo Saba," 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 Oct. 4-11 found that 2 percent of the 8,585 adults surveyed said they would celebrate Kwanzaa, compared to 90.5 percent for Christmas and 5.4 percent for Hanukkah.

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.

Barbara Jean Carey December 28, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Thanks for sharing!
John Mazza December 28, 2011 at 08:54 PM
As a vetran of the 60s, it is nice to know that Ron Karenga,who was involved in a shootout at UCLA in 1969 in which several people were killed and was later convicted of felonious assualt and false imprisonment, did something positive with his life.

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