Everything you need to know about Kwanzaa

Everything you need to know about Kwanzaa

Molly Oravsky, Sr. High Staff Writer

I was planning out my December schedule this morning and to ensure that included every possible thing I might need to be a part of,  I used the calendar app on my phone to record the holidays. The only one I had forgotten about was a distant relative’s birthday which to be honest I think that’s pretty impressive considering that December is a prime part of the “holiday season.”

Anyway, as I’m sure a lot of people do, I looked ahead in my calendar to after Christmas. I was tempted to plan out the entire month of January too, but I think that would REALLY start getting my anticipation up. Ok my journey however, I saw the other holidays for December. One of them as you probably know is Kwanzaa, which I didn’t even know how to spell until autocorrect fixed it just then. I always forget Kwanzaa, I blame that mostly on the fact that there are no songs for it. However as Mr. Adam Sandler pointed out, there aren’t any songs for Haunukah either and I remember that holiday. So I came to the conclusion this morning that I’d become an expert on Kwanzaa, so much so that I couldn’t ever possibly even use the amount of information I have on it. And after a little bit of research, this is what I have;

1. Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karegna and Organization U.S. 

2. It is a celebration of African-American culture. 

3. It was started almost as a protest, because of the summer of 1965 and the Watts Riots that occurred. The Watts riots happened in response to an apparent issue of unfair housing policies, underfunded schools, and “more flare following a traffic stop.” The rioting lasted about 6 days, left 34 dead, and more than 1000 other injured. 4,000 people were arrested within the L.A.- Watts area.

4. The word “Kwanzaa” comes from the 2nd most understood language in Africa, Kiswahili. It means first, and comes from the phrase matunda ya kwanza which means first fruits.

5. The extra  “A” was added to be the 7th letter in the word and represent the 7 children who were involved in Organization US at the time.

6. It was founded out of the Kawaida philosophy. The main idea of the Kawaida philosophy is to celebrate and embrace the old parts of your culture while still growing and adding new ideas. 

7. It is not a religious holiday at all. It doesn’t hold a claim to any religion.

8. Celebrations run annually for a whole week, starting on December 26 and ending on January 1.

9. There are seven candles (the Mishumaa Saba) which represent the seven principles (the Nguzo Saba). These seven principles are “Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).”

10. There are seven symbols: 

11. The candle in the middle of the Mishumaa Saba is black and represents the people. The three candles to the left are red and represent the pain and struggling. The candles to the right are green and represent the future. 

12. The holiday Kwanzaa is most similar to is Thanksgiving rather than Christmas or Haunukkah.

I hope that you are as inspired to learn more about Kwanzaa as I am after writing this.