What is Kwanzaa?

Learn about the history of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is the Swahili word for “first fruits,” and just like a joyous harvest, it’s a time for celebration. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday observed for seven days beginning December 26 and ending January 1. On each day of the holiday, families and communities discuss one of the seven guiding principles of African culture.

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The 7 principles of Kwanzaa  

  • Unity
  • Self-determination
  • Collective work and responsibility
  • Cooperative economics
  • Purpose
  • Creativity
  • Faith

Neither a religious or political holiday, Kwanzaa is one of the most important African-American holidays—a time set aside for families and communities to remember and celebrate African traditions and history and African-American customs. Because Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, it’s not meant to replace Christmas. In fact, some African-American families and communities celebrate both and believe that Kwanzaa’s cultural emphasis on family and community reinforces the real meaning of the Christmas season—love and hope.