Thursday, December 23, 2010
Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year.
It has its roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960s.
It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated from December 26, 1966 to January 1, 1967.
The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest".
The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism.
It was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions and Nguzu Saba, the "seven principles of blackness" which Karenga said "is a communitarian African philosophy".
Karenga said his goal was to "give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society."
It features activities such as the lighting of a kinara and libations, and culminates in a feast and gift giving.