Celebrated for the very first time on December 26, 1966, Kwanzaa which was derived from the Swahili matunda ya kwanza which translates to “first fruits” and is originally a harvest ritual observed by many African communities. The celebrations last from December 26 to January 1. It is meant to be simultaneous with the Christmas holidays. The brainchild of Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, Kwanzaa has taken on a life of its own and has launched a cultural change of paradigm. Since then, the celebration has become a bona fide tradition that is observed not only in the United States but in other parts of the world (123holiday.net).
At the time of the Civil Rights Movement, the somewhat fragmented African-American community, needed to be united. Dr. Karenga and his organization, US, researched on African festivities and were able to come up with Kwanzaa based on Ashanti and Zulu customs. It is held for seven days and each night a child of the family will light a candle on the Kinara as one of the seven principles is deliberated upon. The seven principles are: Umoja which stands for unity, Kujichagulia which is to ascertain self-determination, Ujima for responsibility and working together, Ujamaa for cooperative economics, Nia for purpose, Kuumba toward creativity, and Imani to strengthen faith. Also, there are seven symbols, likewise formulated by Dr. Karenga, which came from African conventions. The following are: Mazao which represents the crops and the very basis of the festival where the family places fruits and other food, this is then placed on the Mkeka which represents the history of the people, the Vibunzi is an ear of corn which signifies fertility, a symbol most commonly seen is the Mishumaa Saba or the seven candles where there are three red and green ones each and one black, the Kinara which holds the candles is at the center, then the Kikombe Cha Umoja or the unity cup which is for the libation ritual to honor the souls,