In the past, some were apprehensive to celebrate because they feared it conflicted with Christmas, a traditionally Christian holiday. “Kwanzaa” is derived from the Swahili language, while the seven principles are typically represented in Swahili as well. The founder of this celebration Dr. Keranga, yearned for the Black communities across America to have stronger cultural ties and traditions since many African traditions were stripped from Black Americans through the duration of slavery. During the week of celebration seven candles are lit. Specific crops and harvest are chosen to represent the holiday. They are laid out across tables in homes to represent what the word Kwanzaa means, which is “first harvest.”
You don’t have to be African American to celebrate Kwanzaa, especially not to share in its purpose. Rather than being a religious holiday, Kwanzaa celebrates culture and tradition. So, no matter your beliefs anyone can honor this special time, bringing together family to try out new traditions such as African head wrapping or dancing. Kwanzaa is celebrated across countries all over the world, not just in the United States. Kwanzaa’s origin language of Swahili is spoken in the African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.