We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Kwanzaa?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At CulturalWorld.org, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday that celebrates the origins of the African American. It strives to commemorate those things that help the African American community remain strong. It was born out of the civil rights movement and its inventor, Ron Karenga, at first wanted to give African Americans an opportunity to celebrate a holiday not invented by the dominant culture.

Since its inception in 1966, Karenga’s position has shifted greatly. He now believes that Kwanzaa is an appropriate celebration to many, just as any race in America might celebrate Chinese New Year. Karenga also shifted his position to allow more people of diverse religions to celebrate this holiday without diverging from their religious beliefs.

The Kwanzaa celebration lasts for seven days and is not meant to mimic an African holiday. The word “Kwanza” loosely translates in Swahili to “first fruits.” However, it has never meant to be imitative of a specific pan-African holiday. It is specifically the celebration of African Americans; though many in other parts of the world now also celebrate the holiday.

The seven days of Kwanzaa match the seven principles celebrated during the days. These are ideas that triumph the idea of community of individualism. Each day is dedicated to a specific idea. They are in order:

  • Unity of family, community, race and nation.
  • Self Determination which allows one to define one’s self, and to define one’s community. Self Determination also involves the celebration of creations of the past and present African American.
  • Collective Work and Responsibility refers to all African Americans’ steps toward building a sustainable community together, and turning inward to solve problems.
  • Cooperative Economics relates to African American business leaders showing solidarity in business practices so that all profit from individual accomplishment in business.
  • Purpose is defined as the cooperative effort of all in the community to strengthen and restore the African American community.
  • Creativity means to do as much as one can to beautify and make memorable the African American’s community.
  • Faith refers to faith in one’s people, teachers, community, religious leaders and ultimate success ahead for African Americans.

These principals are each given a day of observation, but all stress unity of the African American people, and the importance of community. Kwanzaa celebrations may have a specific “African” flair. The home may be decorated in colorful African cloth, and people may dress in tradition clothing. It may also be part of the celebration of Christmas and New Year's day.

In these cases, Christians who celebrate Kwanzaa may have the Christmas tree, and the kinara, the special menorah, which holds the seven candles representative of the Kwanzaa principles. On each night of the holiday more candles are lit. On the seventh night all candles blaze forth to symbolize the whole of Kwanzaa.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a CulturalWorld.org contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon999393 — On Dec 26, 2017

So, 50 years ago a guy makes up a holiday, it never catches on but to not acknowledge it makes you racist. We live in strange times. Merry Festivus. - The rest of us.

By anon308297 — On Dec 10, 2012

I don't understand why we have stressed integration and equality for so many years and still have a holiday that is completely devoted to one race of people.

By surfNturf — On Dec 01, 2010

Anon56048-Really that is interesting. I know that the Kwanzaa holiday is not that widespread in the United States but many schools still observe it.

In my children’s private school there is always a Kwanzaa song included in the Holiday program. I think the idea of Kwanzaa traditions really are a blend of Christmas and Hanukkah.

The Kwanzaa candle holder is used for the same purpose as a menorah and while the celebration of the African American culture should be lauded, I think that the Kwanzaa holiday would be better received if it did not take place during the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons because it does not get any attention because these holidays dominate during the month of December.

You do not have to be Christian to get into the Christmas spirit for example. Having the Christmas spirit really means that you are kind to others and are generous with the poor and those in need. These ideals should be applied year round and not in a single holiday.

The same could be said for Kwanzaa. The celebration of African American heritage should live on the entire year not just on a single day.

By anon56048 — On Dec 11, 2009

In spite of the fact that Kwanzaa purports to be a "Pan-African" holiday, after almost two years in South Africa I have yet to encounter anyone familiar with it.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a CulturalWorld.org contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
CulturalWorld.org, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

CulturalWorld.org, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.