December 26-January 1, 2024
Celebrate Kwanzaa with your family! Explore the holiday traditions with the hoopla collection.
hoopla is a Free at-home streaming courtesy of your library for Parkland School District and Northwestern residents only!
hoopla is a groundbreaking digital media service that allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics, and TV shows to enjoy on your devices! With no waiting, titles can be streamed immediately or downloaded for offline enjoyment later.
Please note these limits: Patrons can have up to five monthly borrows. Items listed as “bonus borrows” do not count toward the monthly limit.
Learn more about Kwanzaa.
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The Origin of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966 and created by college professor Maulana Karenga. The celebration is a way of uniting and empowering the African-American community following the deadly Watts Rebellion on August 11, 1965. The name “Kwanzaa” is derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which translates to “first fruits.” The holiday is meant to bring people together based on a shared cultural heritage, not religious faith. The holiday allows celebrants to celebrate themselves and their history.
The Seven Principles
At the heart of the celebration, there are the seven principles:
- Umoja (Unity)
- Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
- Ujima (Collective work and responsibility)
- Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
- Nia (Purpose)
- Kuumba (Creativity)
- Imani (Faith)
The Seven Symbols
In addition to the seven principles, there are seven symbols of the holiday:
- Mazao (Crops)
- Mkeka (Mat)
- Kinara (Candleholder)
- Muhindi (Corn)
- Kikombe cha umoja (Unity cup)
- Zawadi (Gifts)
- Mishumaa saba (Seven candles)
The Seven Candles
Of the seven candles, three are red, three are green, and one is black.
Red signifies the struggle experienced by the Black community.
Green symbolizes the land and hope for the future.
The black candle represents people of African descent.
Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st, culminating in Karamu, a communal feast. Celebrations may include drumming and music, libations, reading the African Pledge, and artistic performances.
In the 1990s, Kwanzaa quickly became a more commercialized holiday with the first greeting card being sold by Hallmark in 1992. The popularity of the holiday has declined over the years following the waning popularity of the black separatist movement.
As of today, the holiday is celebrated outside of the United States in the United Kingdom, Jamaica, France, Canada, and Brazil.
Learn more about the origin of Hanukkah, traditions, and more in our Celebrate Hanukkah blog post!
Learn more about the origin of Christmas, traditions, and more in our Celebrate Christmas blog post!