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Kwanzaa, from matunda ya kwanza, Swahili for "first fruits", is an African American holiday which is observed by African communities throughout the world, celebrating family, community, and culture. The holiday begins December 26 and continues through January 1.

Kwanzaa originates from ancient African first-fruit harvest celebrations from which it takes its name. Its modern history begins in 1966 when it was developed by Maulana Karenga, an African American scholar and activist.

    Kwanzaa is organized around five fundamental activities:
  1. Gathering of family, friends, and community
  2. Reverence for the creator and creation
  3. Commemoration of the past
  4. Recommitment to cultural ideals of the African community
  5. Celebration of the "Good of Life" (for example, life, struggle, achievement, family, community, and culture).

The celebration of Kwanzaa is done through rituals, dialogue, narratives, poetry, dancing, singing, drumming and other music, and feasting. In the lighting of the mishumaa (seven candles) of Kwanzaa, a candle is lit each day for each of the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles):

  1. Umoja (unity)
  2. Kujichagulia (self-determination)
  3. Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
  4. Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
  5. Nnia (purpose)
  6. Kuumba (creativity)
  7. Imani (faith)

Kwanzaa ends with a day of assessment on which celebrants raise and answer questions of cultural and moral grounding and consider their worthiness in family, community, and culture.