Kwanzaa, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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African-Americans celebrate a wide range of holidays, depending on their religion and culture, but Kwanzaa is their own. Kwanzaa celebrates the African cultural connection many African-Americans feel. The celebration runs for the week between December 26 and January 1.

Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is a shortening of the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa celebrates the oneness and goodness of life, and puts particular emphasis on family life and African-American continuity with the past.

Kwanzaa stresses seven key African values, in English: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Celebrants decorate their homes in African colors and African art, share libations, light candles, and involve their children in most activities.

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