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

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