Kwanza Begins 2021 · Parkinson's Resource Organization

Kwanza Begins 2021

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Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, is an African American and pan-African seven-day cultural holiday that celebrates family and community. During the holiday, families celebrate with feasts, music, and dance, and end the holiday with a day dedicated to reflection and recommitment to the seven principles. 

HISTORY OF KWANZAA

Professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, Dr. Maulana Karenga, created Kwanzaa in 1966 in the midst of the Black Freedom Movement, reflecting concerns for cultural grounding in thought and practice. After the Watts riots in L.A., Dr. Karenga looked for ways to strengthen the African-American community. He founded the US Organization, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” meaning “first fruits” in Swahili. Swahili is considered a pan-African language, and also happens to be the most widely spoken language in Africa. Basing the language of the holiday in Swahili represents unity throughout the African and Black communities.

The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations such as Ashantiland and Yorubaland. Kwanzaa developed as a flourishing branch of the African American life and struggle as a recreated and expanded ancient tradition. It draws from the cultures of various African people and is celebrated by millions of Africans and African Americans throughout the nation.

Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in their own way, but celebrations often include song and dance, African drums, storytelling, poetry readings, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the kinara, then one of the seven principles, called Nguzo Saba, is discussed. These principles are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African Americans.

Event Details:

  • Date & Time:
    • All Day
    • December 26, 2021
  • Location:
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Updated: August 16, 2017