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Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration of traditional African values of family, community responsibility, trade, and self-development Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language Kiswahili. Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Kwanzaa is based on seven guiding principles, or values, one for each day it is observed. The first night celebrates Umoja which means unity. Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community. The second night celebrates Kujichagulia, or self-determination. Self-determination requires that we explain our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community. The third night of Kwanzaa celebrates Ujima. This is our collective responsibility to play in the community, society, and world. The fourth night of Kwanzaa celebrates Ujamaa. Cooperation is the strength that encourages us to meet our needs through communal support. The fifth night of Kwanzaa celebrates Nia. Individuals are encouraged to set personal goals that are a benefit to the community. The sixth night of Kwanzaa celebrates Kuumba. This is using our creativity to build and maintain a vibrant community. The seventh night of Kwanzaa celebrates Imani. This is an honoring of our faith and the best of our traditions. On Kwanzaa, a Kinara with seven candles or Mishumaa saba is lit. There is one black candle, three red candles and three green candles. During Kwanzaa, families decorate their homes using homemade objects. It is tradition to set out harvest fruits and vegetables, especially ears of corn. A Mkeka or hand sewn straw mat is used when decorating the home. Kuumba, or gift giving using creativity is one of the seven principles. Therefore, the gifts given during Kwanzaa should be made by hand. The Kwanzaa feast Karumu is held on December 31st. Traditionally, the program involved welcoming, remembering and rejoicing. The feast ends with a farewell statement and a call for greater unity among all people. Kwanzaa is a fun holiday to celebrate! Copyright © 2009 MightyBook, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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