Kwan·​zaa ˈkwän-zə How to pronounce Kwanzaa (audio)
variants or less commonly Kwanza
: an African American cultural festival held from December 26 to January 1

Did you know?

In 1966, Maulana Karenga, a Black Studies professor at California State University at Long Beach, created a new holiday patterned after traditional African harvest festivals. He called it Kwanzaa, a name he took from a Swahili term that means "first fruits." The holiday, which takes place from December 26th to January 1st, was originally intended as a nonreligious celebration of family and social values. Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Examples of Kwanzaa in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Matthews Community Center, 100 E McDowell St, Matthews, NC 28105 Time: 7 p.m. Cost: Free Celebrate Kwanzaa with the Town of Matthews and learn everything about the holiday, including how it’s celebrated, the principles and symbols. Jody MacEand, Charlotte Observer, 29 Dec. 2023 When Is Kwanzaa 2023? Kwanzaa 2023 begins on Tuesday, Dec. 26, and runs until Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 17 Dec. 2023 Founded on the principles of Kwanzaa – Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith, the app helps streamline important goals in a cohesive way. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 3 Jan. 2024 Visitors to the museum can make a scrapbook using images from its collections, tour exhibits to learn about Watch Night and the role of the U.S. Colored Troops in the Civil War, and do activities related to three concepts of Kwanzaa: Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith) and Nia (purpose). Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2023 Tonight’s event explores Ujamaa, one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, which centers around family and cooperative economics. The San Diego Union-Tribune Staff, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Dec. 2023 The Kwanzaa Fashion Expo & Health Fair begins at noon in the food court of Little Rock's University Mall. Eula Calahan,, 25 Dec. 2023 During each day of Kwanzaa, one of the candles is lit to commemorate each of the seven principles. Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 17 Dec. 2023 These kids celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah in school – and this 60-minute video shows it all. Kosha Dillz, Billboard, 8 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Kwanzaa.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Swahili kwanza first

First Known Use

1970, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Kwanzaa was in 1970


Dictionary Entries Near Kwanzaa

Cite this Entry

“Kwanzaa.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


Kwan·​zaa ˈkwän-zə How to pronounce Kwanzaa (audio)
: an African-American cultural festival held from December 26 to January 1

Swahili kwanza "first," in the phrase matunda ya kwanza "first fruits"

More from Merriam-Webster on Kwanzaa

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!