Joyous Kwanzaa!….but what is Kwanzaa?

The Kwanzaa Kinara

The Kwanzaa Kinara

At Matlock, we are proud to support and promote diversity as well as help our Clients reach particular multicultural segments to improve their brands. For over 25 years we have been thought leaders in the African American community. Therefore we felt that this holiday season, we would like to provide some insight on the first specifically African-American holiday, Kwanzaa. While many people have heard of this holiday or are slightly familiar, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide more information on this holiday.

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that honors African heritage, starting on December 26th and continuing through January 1st. Based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years, the name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditions.

Kwanzaa is celebrated by following the seven principles of African Heritage, or Nguzo Saba. These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows:

• Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
• Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define one’s self, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
• Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
• Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
• Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
• Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
• Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in God, our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani? , which is Swahili for “What’s the News?”
Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat on which other symbols are placed, corn and other crops, a candle holder with seven candles, called a kinara, a communal cup for pouring libations, gifts, a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.

Many Christian African Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa do so in addition to observing Christmas. Frequently, both Christmas trees and kinaras, share space in Kwanzaa-celebrating households (and possibly a menorah for Hannakuh too).

Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa, so feel free to start this year. Our logo will feature the kinara and the Kwanzaa traditional colors from December 26 to January 1st.

Hopefully this information on Kwanza is helpful in learning more about the holiday’s origin, significance and traditions. If you would like to learn more, we recommend checking out http://www.infoplease.com/spot/kwanzaa1.html.

Lastly, the holiday greeting for Kwanzaa is “Joyous Kwanzaa”. So from all of us at Matlock, “Joyous Kwanzaa”!!!!!

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