What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa is a holiday celebrated by African-Americans in the United States. This holiday was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a university professor, to bring African-Americans together after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Kwanzaa is inspired by harvest celebrations of African cultures.

Like during Hanukkah, candles are lit to celebrate Kwanzaa. There are seven candles on a kinara, a candleholder, that represent seven principles. One candle is lit every night and the accompanying principle is discussed. Along with the seven principles, there are also seven symbols of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is celebrated over seven days, from December 26 to January 1 of each year.

The seven principles * are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. The seven symbols ** are: crops, a place mat, an ear of corn, the seven candles, the kinara, the unity cup, and gifts.

The holiday greeting for Kwanzaa is “joyous Kwanzaa.”

* En español: la unidad, la autodeterminación, trabajo colectivo y responsabilidad, economía cooperativa, la determinación, la creatividad, y la fe

** En español: los cultivos, el mantel individual, mazorca de maíz, los siete velas, el kinara, copa de unidad, y los reglaos


Want to learn more about Kwanzaa? Watch this video made by Voice of America.

Answer some comprehension questions here!


holidayun día feriado
African-Americansel afroamericano
harvest celebrationscelebraciones de cosecha
Hanukkahla Janucá
candleholderel candelero
principleslos principios
to accompanyacompañar
to discussdiscutir
symbolel símbolo


Cover Image: OpenClipart-Vectors

“African Americans Celebrate Kwanzaa.” YouTube, VOA News, 23 Dec. 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG1Hz5wCl9A. Accessed 31 Dec. 2021.

History.com Editors. “Kwanzaa.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 14 Oct. 2009, https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history.

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