The African American festival, Kwanzaa, is not significant and notable for its religious value. It’s rather a harvest occasion which takes place in entire Africa during 26th December to 1st January. It has a 1000 years long history. The Karamu or feast, one of the most interesting and striking cultures of Kwanzaa, is observed on 31st December.
This is the carnival which dedicatedly focuses on promoting the African American cultures and traditions. And the celebration of Kwanzaa started and developed in the year 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga.
The name Kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili phrase "Matunda Ya Kwanza". The meaning of which is "First fruits of the harvest". This was a period of abrupt and hasty social changes. At this important juncture Karanga aspired to celebrate it in a way by which the African American cultures and mores are honored and respected throughout the African region. The festival also inspired every African American who worked or are working for progress.
The fascinating cultural carnival throws lights on seven foremost ideologies and doctrines namely Unity, Self Determination, Collective work and Responsibility, Cooperative economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith. Each and every dogma signifies values and perceptions which are related to the African culture in some way or the other. These principles contribute to the community building and reinforcement.
Offering gifts to family members, especially to the children, is an integral part of the tradition and culture of this impressive fiesta. Heritage symbol and books are the gift items included in the list of bequests. Children discover and learn about the values and customs of Africa by having the books as gifts. On the other hand the heritage symbol confirms and strengthens the African loyalty and obligations to the ancient conventions and history.
The popularly known Kwanzaa colors like red, black and green are used to adorn surrounds during Kwanzaa. Traditional African items like African baskets, cloth patterns, harvest symbols and art objects are used to embellish the backdrop during Kwanzaa. Candles of dissimilar colors are lighted in Kinara. Three red colors candles at the left hand side of the black candle represent the "struggles" where as the three green candles at the right hand side of the black candle represent "hope and future". The black candle located right at the middle stands for "the people".