(The name Kwanzaa is not itself a Swahili word.) The concept of Kwanzaa draws on Southern African first-fruits celebrations. Kwanzaa is celebrated from Monday, December 26, 2022, to Sunday, January 1, 2023.
Although Kwanzaa is primarily an African American Holiday, it has also come to be celebrated outside the United States, particularly in the Caribbean and other countries where there are large numbers of descendants of Africans. It was conceived as a nonpolitical and nonreligious holiday, and it is not considered to be a substitute for Christmas.
Each of the days of the celebration is dedicated to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). There also are seven symbols of the holiday: fruits, vegetables, and nuts; a straw mat; a candleholder; ears of corn (maize); gifts; a communal cup signifying unity; and seven candles in the African colours of red, green, and black, symbolizing the seven principles. On each day, the family comes together to light one of the candles in the kinara, or candleholder, and to discuss the principle for the day. On December 31st, families join in a community feast called the Karamu. Some participants wear traditional African clothing during the celebration.