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Celebrating ALL of the Holidays – Part 2

Date: December 24, 2015 Categories: Blog

As mentioned in our previous post, we are taking time this holiday season to explore the history and meaning behind two other holidays, also celebrated during this time of year. Last week, Hanukkah was discussed, and this week we will focus on Kwanzaa.


Around for less than 50 years, Kwanzaa (“first fruit” in Swahili) was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and Chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, in 1966. Born out of the LA Watts’ riots, as a way to unite and empower African-Americans, many now celebrate Kwanzaa, along with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.


Held between December 26th and January 1st, families may decorate their homes with fresh fruit, as well as colorful African objects. Each of the seven nights includes a Kwanzaa ceremony, during which a new candle is lit (one black, symbolizing the black people; three red, representing their struggle, and three green representing their future and hope as a result of their struggle) on the kinara. A family discussion of the day’s principle generally follows, along with storytelling, drumming, dancing and a traditional feast. Also known as Nguzo Saba in Swahili, the seven principles, representing the basis for African Heritage tradition and reason, are:


  1. Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah)

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

  1. Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

  1. Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)

To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

  1. Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)

To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

  1. Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)

To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

  1. Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)

To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

  1. Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)

To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.


Each of these principles can serve as a positive reminder for us all. To learn more about Kwanzaa, click here. Also, consider taking time this week to not only celebrate Christmas, but also Kwanzaa, as it starts this Saturday, December 26.


On behalf of all of us at the Jefferson CAC, Happy Kwanzaa everyone!