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Home » Beginning of Kwanzaa Honored with Cultural Expression

Beginning of Kwanzaa Honored with Cultural Expression

27 December 2022, Tuesday
Monday marks the start of Kwanzaa. During this seven-day holiday, cultural expression, music, dance, and reflection are celebrated with a feast.
To honor Kwanzaa, the boathouses along the Schuylkill River will be illuminated with red, green, and yellow lights. On the first day, Umoja, which means unity, is observed by families in the Tri-state area.

Hakim's Bookstore in West Philly has a selection of Kwanzaa books and items like candles, cups, mats, and corn which symbolize each family member. This particular holiday was first established in 1966 and comes from the Swahili phrase "Kwanzaa," which stands for "first fruit."
Kamora Shambley set alight the inaugural candle on the first day of Kwanzaa at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in St. Paul, MN, on Wednesday, December 26th, 2018. Jerry Holt captured the moment, taking a photo for the Star Tribune.
Nina Ball from the African American Museum of Philadelphia explains that Kwanzaa was created by professor and activist Dr. Maulana Karenga.

"It was a way to bring Black people worldwide together and foster a greater appreciation of our culture," Ball said.

Kwanzaa is symbolized by seven principles, each represented by a candle: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, and Imani. These principles stand for faith, creativity, purpose, cooperative economics, community building, and self-determination.

The holiday is gaining in popularity year by year; estimates suggest that over 12 million Americans now celebrate Kwanzaa.

Kalif Troy began observing the Kwanzaa tradition with his family in 2015.

"I light the black candle on the first day and reflect on our ancestors," Troy said. "We have a call and response, gather the community, and enjoy good food."

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