First of all, Kwanzaa translates to ‘first’ which coincides with the harvesting of the first fruits, similar to the traditions of many other cultures that come together in autumn to share the bounties of a communal harvest, but Kwanzaa serves as a holiday exclusively for the African-American peoples and is celebrated annually from December 26 to January 1. Activist, professor, and author Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1965 during the Pan-Africanism and Pro-Black movements of the 1960’s as a holiday embracing African-Americans and giving them their own identities, instead of African-Americans imitating and following other dominant cultural holidays. Although Kwanzaa was created for African-Americans it does not mean that you can’t still practice your own religion, so if you’re a Christian, celebrating Christmas as well is not a problem.
The principles are the focal point of the entire Kwanzaa festival and if you plan on observing this holiday you are going to need to clear your mind of all outside influences because this holiday is anything but lazy. Each day a different principle is celebrated and when someone says “Habari gani”, meaning ‘What is the good news?’, you can respond with Umoja, meaning unity and uniting families, communities, and the races, beginning the Kwanzaa festival on December 26. Next, there is Kujichagulia (try saying that five times fast) which means self-determination and striving for one’s self. Ujima, the third day, stands for collective work and responsibility where you and your community build together and help work towards a common goal. Nia is purpose and calls for the people to understand why they are practicing these principles and strive for positivity. Kuumba means creativity, which is self-explanatory, and Imani means faith; the faith to believe in self and in others, and to believe in all the teachings that Kwanzaa embodies.