Kwanzaa or Kwanza (both: kwänˈzə) [key], secular seven-day festival in celebration of the African heritage of African Americans, beginning on Dec. 26. Developed by Maulana Karenga and first observed in 1966, Kwanzaa is based in part on traditional African harvest festivals but particularly emphasizes the role of the family and community in African-American culture. Each day is dedicated to a particular principle (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith), and on each day one of the candles on a seven-branched candelabrum is lighted. The celebration also includes the giving of gifts and a karamu, or African feast.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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