It seems as though not many people know much about Kwanzaa, other than it is a holiday celebrated during December. Kwanzaa seems to be the third wheel of the holidays, never getting as much spotlight as Christmas or Hanukkah, but deserving just as much attention.
But what exactly is Kwanzaa? Well, it is actually a relatively new holiday, founded in 1966 by a African-American nationalist who wanted to instill a sense of community and empowerment for African-Americans during the civil rights movement. Kwanzaa is interpreted differently by each family that celebrates it, but celebrations often include traditional African music, dances, stories and meals. The holiday also features a candleholder similar to that of Hanukkah, called a Kinara. The Kinara holds seven candles, three green, three red, and one black; green stands for a good future, red stands for struggles of the past and present, and black represents the skin color of those of African descent.
On each night of Kwanzaa, one candle is lit and emphasizes one of the seven values of the holiday. In no particular order, the values are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. The lighting of a candle each night allows families to reflect on the meaning of the holiday as well as have a sense of community with one another. Kwanzaa is a non faith-based holiday, so people of all religions are welcome to celebrate it, as well as all ethnicities. This year, Kwanzaa lasts from December 26 to January 1, so after you finish opening Christmas presents and spinning Hanukkah dreidels, break out the Kinaras and participate in a holiday made to unite us all.