Kwanzaa History

Want to find out more about Kwanzaa History? Here are some basic facts and interesting history of this relatively new holiday.

The Founding of Kwanzaa

The mid-1960s were a very exacting period, especially for African American history. In order to commemorate these struggles, Dr. Maulana Karenga instituted a commemorative holiday designating December 28 to January 1 as its days. Kwanzaa was established in 1966 out of the need for African Americans regardless of religious denomination to be one as a family, to reconnect traditions throughout the community.

The institutionalized celebration comes from the Swahili term “matunda ya kwanza” or literally meaning the “first of fruits.” The seven-day celebration covers not only African tradition and language but also the Pan African traditions and languages celebrated in the African continent nowadays.

Like New Year’s celebrations, Kwanzaa symbolizes the passage of time by bidding good bye to the previous year and welcoming the coming year. This is also the time where African heritage is practiced like it was in the olden times, when the harvest time in Africa were done and the first fruits obtained were representative of the functionalities of the community, namely familial bonding, gratitude to the creator, recognition and homage to forefathers, remembrance of cultural values and celebration as a family, community and as a race of people. There is song and dance and lots of traditional story telling and cuisine.

The Kwanzaan traditions also hold the Seven Principles, collectively known as the Nguzo Seba, which are reiterated in the week long celebration. It is in this celebration that African American strengthens their roots from their forebear’s cultural traditions. This serves to instill a better understanding of the current status as seen from past experiences.

In every home during the Kwanzaa holiday, a setting is made where all the seven symbols of Kwanzaa are placed to symbolize the African values and culture and to commemorate the bonds of family and community. The symbol’s meanings are reinforced especially on the young and reaffirmed with the old.

As a whole, Kwanzaa is the time for reflection of African heritage for African Americans throughout the world. This is the time where traditional values and culture are rekindled and the history and experiences are commemorated. It is also the time for the strengthening of familial bonds and community belongingness.

This is the holiday which an African American is given the chance to reestablish their heritage and reiterate their solemn commitment to the community to solidify their identity and culture, as an individual and as a collective group.

Kwanzaa History: Find Out About the Kwanzaa Principles and Symbols

To find out more about Kwanzaa History through the Seven Principles, the Seven Symbols and to find some great Kwanzaa craft, gift and decorating ideas see our other Kwanzaa pages!

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