Kwanzaa can be a difficult subject to research. It’s one of the newest of the publicly recognized holidays in the United States, and because of its vicinity to Christmas and Hanukkah, it can be difficult to separate the statistics from one holiday to the next.
However, that doesn’t mean you weren’t asked to research it or aren’t genuinely curious about it, so I’m here to help with the research I found. There are a lot of great tips and history and official sites out there that will help you learn about the holiday, but if you’re a report writer or a retailer trying to train your staff, you might be running into a dead-end. So, let’s look at some data.
- Kwanzaa is usually celebrated as a cultural, rather than a religious, celebration.
- Kwanzaa occurs through December 26 through January 1 every year
- The name According to Karenga, Kwanzaa is taken from a phrase is Swahili – matunda ya kwanza – which means “first fruits of the harvest”
- The timing of the date corresponds to African harvest celebrations.
- Kwanzaa in and of itself is not an ancient holiday. It was established in 1966 as part of the Black Freedom Movement by Dr. Maulana Karenga (www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org).
- Despite its young age, the celebration has grown deep roots and is taken as a serious and thoughtful celebration by those who honor it.
- The holiday was created as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their heritage.
- In 1997, Karenga released a clarification that Kwanzaa was to celebrate family, community, heritage, and culture.
- Kwanzaa starts the day after Christmas
- Kwanzaa is big on ceremony. Children are encouraged to participate
- It is a time of remembering ancestors and heritage
- A candle lighting ceremony, sharing of history, a feast, and artistic performances are common occurrences to celebrators.
- Celebrated mostly in the US and Canada
- Most celebrants also participate in Christmas
- A candle is lit each day of Kwanzaa, gifts are exchanged on the final day.
- Important colors of Kwanzaa are red, green, and black
- Other important symbols are a family cup and an item that displays the 7 principles of Kwanzaa, as well as Kwanzaa flags
- Drumming is part of some ceremonies.
- Most people who celebrate Kwanzaa celebrate both Kwanzaa and Christmas.
- Symbols of the holiday include a Mkeka (ornamented mat) on which symbolic items are placed. These include: Muhindi (corn) and other produce, a Kinara (candleholder) with 7 candles, a cup for libations, gifts, a writing of the 7 principles, and a flag bearing red, black, and green, the colors of the holiday.
- There are seven days of Kwanzaa:
–Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
–Ujamma (Financial Support)