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Ava Casey, Contributor

Have you ever heard of Kwanzaa?


Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January 1st. During the 7 days, Black people around the world come together to celebrate culture and heritage. Each day, a candle is lit on the Kinara, similar to how the menorah is lit during Hanukkah. 


On each of the seven days, seven principles, also known as the Nguzo Saba are celebrated; unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). A big feast is held on the sixth day, called the Kwanzaa Karamu. Typically, traditional African and African-American foods are served, but Caribbean and South American foods are also served. On the seventh day, handmade gifts that celebrate the seven principles are given out, or gifts bought from Black-owned businesses. Some other celebrations include storytelling, dancing, and African drumming.


So, what’s the history behind Kwanzaa, you might ask? 


It all started with Dr. Maulana Karenga, the chairman and professor of Black Studies at CSU. He created Kwanzaa in 1966 with the intention of bringing African Americans together as a community after the Watts Riots. Karenga took inspiration from several African celebrations to bring the holiday to life.