Every year as the holiday season rolls around, people can be seen virtually everywhere celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and the ever elusive Kwanzaa. While most people have heard of the holiday, they may not know what the holiday is truly about. This year, on December 4 at 7:30 p.m., Millersville University is hosting a “Celebrate Kwanzaa” event to be held in the Multi-Purpose room in the Student Memorial Center. It is a celebration that is free and open to the public and will feature a traditional Kwanzaa ceremony, African dance, and an explanation of the history of Kwanzaa. This will then be followed by an African feast.
Kwanzaa is a week long celebration created by Manulana Karenga in 1966 that lasts from December 26 to January 1. It is observed with traditions of feasting and gift giving. The word “Kwanzaa” itself is derived from a phrase in Swahili, “Ya kwanza,” meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” Kwanzaa was created as the first holiday observed specifically by African-Americans, and was established as a means to help African-Americans reconnect with their cultural roots and heritage. This is done through unification in meditation and the study of the seven principles of African Heritage, or “Nguzu Saba.”
The seven principles of Kwanzaa, which will be discussed at the Kwanzaa celebration are; Umoja (Unity), Kujuchagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa observes a specific principle of Kwanzaa. In general, a Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming, readings, reflection, discussion, candle-lighting, performance, and a feast.
To learn more about this holiday, or even to simply experience another culture, come out to the MPR on Wednesday, December 4 and join in the celebration of feasting, gift-giving, and companionship!