Kwanzaa: An intimate family holiday celebrating African-American culture

Dec 24, 2012

Credit The official Kwanzaa website

December 26th marks the first day of Kwanzaa. The week-long holiday celebrates family, community and African-American culture. WMUK's Amanda Wright talked with Sid Ellis, the director of the Black Arts and Cultural Center in Kalamazoo, to find out more about the Kwanzaa and dispel a few myths. 

Ellis says the holiday is not an African holiday, but an African American holiday. He says it’s not a religious holiday or a replacement for Christmas. Kwanzaa is also celebrates the first harvest.

To celebrate Ellis says people place fruit and vegetables on a table along with seven candles. Ellis says the green candles represent hope, the red candles represent blood, and the black candles represent the people. He says children also are given gifts during Kwanzaa, but they’re not like your usual Christmas gift. The gifts are usually handmade and some gifts are used to educate children about Kwanzaa.

Ellis says Kwanzaa is a smaller holiday that’s meant to be a time where families get together. That’s why you may not see many Kwanzaa events around town.