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African American holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1 and patterned after African harvest festivals. It was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black-studies professor at California State University at Long Beach, as a nonreligious celebration of family and community. The name was taken from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanzaa (first fruits). Each day is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Each evening, family members gather to light one of the candles in the kinara, a seven-branched candelabra; often gifts are exchanged. On December 31 community members gather for a feast, the karamu. Kwanzaa is now observed by more than 15 million people.
Variants of KWANZAA
Kwanzaa or Kwanza
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Kwanzaa, visit Britannica.com.