image courtesy flickr/TheBlackHour.com
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu, usually on the sixth day.
It was created by activist Maulana Karenga, based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966.
Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with objects of art, colorful African cloth such as kente, especially the wearing of kaftans by women, and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors.
Libations are shared, generally with a common chalice, Kikombe cha Umoja, passed around to all celebrants. Non-African Americans also celebrate Kwanzaa."Joyous Kwanzaa" may be used as a greeting during the holiday.
A Kwanzaa ceremony may include drumming and musical selections, libations, a reading of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflection on the Pan-African colors, a discussion of the African principle of the day or a chapter in African history, a candle-lighting ritual, artistic performance, and, finally, a feast of faith (Karamu Ya Imani).
The greeting for each day of Kwanzaa is Habari Gani?, which is Swahili for "How are you?"