How Is Kwanzaa Celebrated? How to Celebrate Holiday’s Seven Principles

Kwanzaa is a holiday that is literally a holiday that is celebrated the day after Christmas.

But what is it?

For those keeping score at home: Kwanzaa is a holiday that is celebrated for seven days. In Swahili, the word Kwanzaa means ‘first fruits of the harvest.’

During the festival of Kwanzaa, many African-Americans celebrate by giving gifts through those seven days and by having a feast with family and friends.

Kwanzaa was created in the 1960s by California State University African American Studies professor Dr. Maulana Karenga.

Kwanzaa is based on seven priciples: Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani.

From December 26-January 1, celebrators of Kwanzaa light a candle for each day celebrated, act on those topical issues by practicing and educating those principles in the community.

Here’s more information on each Kwanzaa Principle during the seven-day period:


Umoja means unity. The principle of Umoja is celebrated on December 26, the first day of Kwanzaa.

Unity is essential to Kwanzaa’s principles because it’s purpose to instill the belief of striving to maintain unity within the family structure as well as in the community, nation and race.


The principle of Kujichagulia  is the second principle of Kwanzaa and is celebrated on December 27. Kujichagulia means self-determination.

This principle is singificant because it embodies not  simply defining yourself through self-expression. The principle of Kujichagulia also places an emphasis on naming yourself and setting a mandate on being self-sufficient and self-reliant by creating for yoursel and speaking for yourself.


The principle of Ujimia is the third principle of Kwanzaa and is celebrated on December 28.

The word Ujima means Collective Work and Responsibility. Within the system of Ujima, one is called to build and maintain their community as one. Within that set of principles brothers and sisters should be solved amongst one another.


Ujamaa is the fourth principle of Kwanzaa.

Ujamaa is recognized on December 29. Ujamaa keys in on economics. More specifically, the belief of building up and spending money with the community is essential. Cooperative ecomoics is the firm belief that one should shop within and profit from one another.


Nia is the fifth principle of Kwanzaa that is recognized on December 30. To believe in Nia means to dial in on building and developing of community and  the greatness within.

Simply put: Nia means purpose.


Kuumba is the sixth principle of Kwanzaa that is recongnized on December 31, which is New Year’s Eve.

Kuumba exudes the concept of creativity. Within that creativity, one must do all that is humanly possible to create a community that is presented in the best possible light. More specifically:  Once in the community, one has the responsibility to leave that area more beautiful than how one may have entered it.


Imani is the last and final principle celebrated during the seven day festival of Kwanzaa. Imani is always recognized on January 1, which is New Year’s Day.

Imani means Faith. To have faith is to believe in one self, family and God-given abilities that you can be successful.

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