(WWLP) – On Sunday millions across the world will be partaking in the first day of Kwanzaa celebrations.

Kwanzaa, meaning first harvest in Swahili, is not a religious holiday, but a cultural holiday to celebrate the African and Pan-African communities.

Kwanzaa is the holiday the proceeds Christmas on December 26th and goes on until January 1st.

The cultural holiday started in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a way to help the African-American community to connect back to their heritage and culture.

This holiday last for 7 days and each day represents the 7 different principles. Similar to Hanukkah they use a candle holder called a kinara, to celebrate the seven days. The kinara, has three colors red, black, and green.

Each is lit individually on each day to represent each of the seven principles.

The first three red candles represents the blood of the people and their culture. The one in the middle is a black candle that represents the people the holiday celebrates. Lastly, the three green candles represent the earth and the hard work bringing this back to the roots of this holiday having to do with harvest.

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture the seven principles are:


Meaning to maintain unity within your family, community, and race.


To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima/Collective Work and Responsibility:

To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa/Cooperative Economics:

To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.


To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.


To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.


To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Communities across the world are able to celebrate in many ways through storytelling, song, and dance, but most importantly connect and celebrate their culture.

What makes this holiday so special is how it transcends race, culture, religion and more. It’s ultimate purpose is to unify, connect, and celebrate one another. And to celebrate the great contributions that African-Americans have made to our history.