This calendar listing is intended to provide information about the named cultural/religious observation and is not intended as an actual campus event. If a campus event is associated with this observance, it will be listed separately on the master calendar.
First celebrated on December 26, 1966, the festival of Kwanzaa was created in the United States by scholar and cultural activist Dr. Maulana Karenga. Patterned after harvest festivals in Africa, Kwanzaa derives its name from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits.” Symbols of Kwanzaa are set upon a low table laden with tropical fruits and vegetables. A seven-branched candelabrum called a kinara, reflecting the Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles of Kwanzaa, is used for lighting one candle for each day of the holiday. Kwanzaa decorations traditionally use a color scheme of red, black, and green: black to represent the faces of Black people and their collective beauty, red to represent the struggle and the blood of ancestors, and green to signify youth and renewed life. The Kwanzaa observance includes storytelling about the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). A Pan-African holiday, Kwanzaa is also celebrated in Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and in African communities in the United Kingdom and other European countries.
Recognizing the Festival/Holiday: Black, red, and green streamers, balloons, and flowers are used to decorate during Kwanzaa, along with African sculptures and artwork. Families exchange handmade gifts that demonstrate kuumba (creativity). The Kwanzaa feast, or karamu, traditionally celebrated on the evening of December 31, is a communal event often held in a church or community center. A joyful expression of African American culture, the karamu features music, dancing, poetry recitation, talks by guest lecturers, and a feast with dishes such as peanut soup, okra gumbo, black-eyed peas and rice, jambalaya, jerk chicken, barbequed ribs, and sweet potato pie. The Kwanzaa greeting is Kwanzaa yenu iwe na heri! or “Happy Kwanzaa".