Dec 21, 2022Kwanzaa – a celebration of African-American Culture

Kwanzaa – a celebration of African-American Culture

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Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day. It was created by activist Maulana Karenga, based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa.

Kwanzaa was introduced by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home. There are seven candles of which three are red, representing the struggle; three of the candles are green, representing the land and hope for the future; and one black candle, representing people of African descent.

The seven days of Kwanzaa

  1. Umoja — Unity. To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia — Self-Determination.
  3. Ujima — Collective Work and Responsibility.
  4. Ujamaa — Cooperative Economics.
  5. Nia — Purpose.
  6. Kuumba — Creativity.
  7. Imani — Faith.

Kwanzaa Traditions

  • Lighting candles in the kinara in recognition of the principles.
  • Placing one ear of corn for each child under the kinara.
  • Putting a fruit basket and a unity cup on the straw mat that holds the kinara.
  • Holding a feast that celebrates cultural expression.

Kwanzaa is the celebration of Black family and community, culture and traditions, history and heritage, and unbreakable hope for the future. It’s where ancestors and elders are honored, and children are cherished. Kwanzaa is where the Black past is commemorated, and the Black future is celebrated. It’s where struggle is acknowledged but the persistence, resilience and transcendence of Black people are heralded.

This year especially, so many Black families are feeling in need of the strength drawn from common cultural identity, community connection and shared faith. Kwanzaa means even more as the hard work of social justice continues.


The Diversity and Reconciliation Commission: The Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, Shirley Bolden (Chair), Drew Brown, Melinda Estes, Jeanne Goolsby, Stephanie Hasty, Taryn Todd, Sandy Wallace, the Very Rev. Don Compier, the Rev. Ted Estes, the Rev. Chas Marks, and the Rev. Galen Snodgrass.

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