Students Celebrate Kwanzaa 2020

Luca Castaneda, Staff Reporter

The holiday season is finally here, Cougars! One celebration happening Saturday, December 26 through Friday, January 1, 2021 is the cultural celebration of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a significant traditional holiday among many African Americans and can be celebrated alongside Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays. Although Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, it is a time to welcome the first harvests of the season to one’s home. The crops brought into a home symbolizes the historical roots, with candles signifying ancestral origins.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga. The purpose of the holiday was to lift and unite the African community in the Watts Riots’ aftermath. The name Kwanzaa is taken from the Swahili phrase, “Matunda ya Kwanza” which means “first fruits”.

An RCHS junior* said, “families say a principle which is mainly from Swahili, and it’s a phrase that embodies African culture.”

The junior said the meaning behind this tradition is to bring together and unite. The junior said, “The phrase is meant to uplift African American people and contribute to unity.”

Kwanzaa is a seven-day tradition that leads up to a large feast on the final day, which includes many African dishes.

Some specific preparations come with celebrating Kwanzaa. One of the largest ones is before lighting one of the seven candles on the Kinara.

Certain rituals are performed after lighting the candle as well. The junior said, “After lighting the candle, we sing spiritual songs along with dances.”

Each day of Kwanzaa has a significant meaning. Here is what each day signifies:
Day 1: Umoja – Unity
Day 2: Kujichagulia – Self Determination
Day 3: Ujima – Work and Responsibility
Day 4: Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics
Day 5: Nia – Purpose
Day 6: Kuumba – Creativity
Day 7: Imani – Faith

With each symbol, a candle represents its meaning and when ignited, the family will discuss it as they celebrate.

Happy Kwanzaa, Cougars!


*This story was updated on 11/28 to remove the name of a student who no longer wished to be quoted.