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Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture


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A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture

December is the best. Love and kindness are as tangible as snow. After a year and a half of drama, riots, and division, let’s make 2021 Holidays a time of love. This year, learn something new about your neighbor. Get to know their culture, their traditions and what matters to them. This December 2021 give the gift of friendship. In the spirit of inclusion here is Kwanzaa.

What is Kwanzaa?

What is Kwanzaa? Kwanzaa is a seven day festival celebrating the history and individuality of our fellow American BIPOC Community members. It was created in 1966 by a professor of African studies. At its core, Kwanzaa focuses on strengthening families and communities. It encourages values and gathering with community and family. But, when does the holiday begin? The celebrations begin on December 26th and end on January 1st. Like other cultural holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa teaches history and reinforces symbolism. Nguzo Sabz, the seven principles of African culture, are discussed, and one is taught each day.

Origins and Purpose

After the Watts riots, Kwanzaa was established to “give [BIPOC peoples] an alternative to the existing holiday of Christmas…and an opportunity to celebrate…their history rather than simply intimate the practice of the dominant society.” Our nation has seen too much violence. Furthermore, violence is no way to effect a peaceful lasting change. 

Nguzo Saba, the 7 principles of Kwanzaa

  • Umoja—stands for unity.
  • Kujichagulia—means self-determination.
  • Ujima—represents collective work and responsibility.
  • Ujamaa—emphasizes cooperative economics.
  • Nia—encapsulates purpose.
  • Kuumba—embodies creativity.
  • Imani—builds faith.

Kwanzaa Observances

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate with traditional art. It is customary to dress in attire from where their ancestors originate. Fresh fruits are set out for idealism (and most importantly) respect and gratitude for elders and ancestors are encouraged. Kwanzaa looks much like other traditions. There are discussions of principles and their people’s struggles throughout history. We are all human, and to be human is to suffer. All histories echo struggle, sacrifice, faith, and family just like Kwanzaa. Candles are lit. Music and dance performances are scheduled. Art is created, and all the celebrating is followed by a feast.


Peace on Earth—creating a community, a nation, of awareness

One of the greatest minds that affected positive change in America, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If we are to have peace on earth…our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” There will never be peace without understanding. We all share this planet, and we are all human. “The world is now too small for anything but brotherhood,” (Arthur Powel Davies, a co-founder of National Geographic Society). The holidays, are a time for peace, respect, and community. 

Non-BIPOC & Kwanzaa

I can’t think of a better way to end the year. Kwanzaa focuses on family and principles to guide your life by. What a great way to prepare for a new year. To support those who celebrate Kwanzaa, wait to be invited, respect their privacy and rituals as personal. Remember, this holiday was established for our brothers and sisters forced into our nation. This is BIPOC people’s chance to reclaim their culture robbed from them, as such it deserves respect and an invite. 

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