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From Encyclopædia Britannica Online: "Kwanzaa, [an] annual holiday affirming African family and social values that is celebrated primarily in the United States from December 26 to January 1. Both the name and the celebration were devised in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University in Long Beach and an important figure in Afrocentrism. Karenga borrowed the word kwanza, meaning “first,” from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, adding the seventh letter, an extra a, to make the word long enough to accommodate one letter for each of the seven children present at an early celebration. (The name Kwanzaa is not itself a Swahili word.) The concept of Kwanzaa draws on Southern African first-fruits celebrations."
History and Reading
Kwanzaa by Since 1966, Kwanzaa has been celebrated as a black holiday tradition - an annual recognition of cultural pride in the African American community. But how did this holiday originate, and what is its broader cultural significance? Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition explores the political beginning and later expansion of Kwanzaa, from its start as a Black Power holiday, to its current place as one of the most mainstream of the black holiday traditions. For those wanting to learn more about this alternative observance practiced by countless African Americans and how Kwanzaa fits into the larger black holiday tradition, Keith A. Mayes gives an accessible and definitive account of the movements and individuals that pushed to make this annual celebration a reality, and shows how African-Americans brought the black freedom struggle to the American calendar. Clear and thoughtful, Kwanzaa is the perfect introduction to what is now the quintessential African American holiday.
Publication Date: 2009-07-29
We Are What We Celebrate by How did Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday become a national holiday? Why do we exchange presents on Christmas and Chanukah? What do bunnies have to do with Easter? How did Earth Day become a global holiday? These questions and more are answered in this fascinating exploration into the history and meaning of holidays and rituals. Edited by Amitai Etzioni, one of the most influential social and political thinkers of our time, this collection provides a compelling overview of the impact that holidays and rituals have on our family and communal life. From community solidarity to ethnic relations to religious traditions, We Are What We Celebrate argues that holidays such as Halloween, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve, and Valentine's Day play an important role in reinforcing, and sometimes redefining, our values as a society. The collection brings together classic and original essays that, for the first time, offer a comprehensive overview and analysis of the important role such celebrations play in maintaining a moral order as well as in cementing family bonds, building community relations and creating national identity. The essays cover such topics as the creation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday; the importance of holidays for children; the mainstreaming of Kwanzaa; and the controversy over Columbus Day celebrations. Compelling and often surprising, this look at holidays and rituals brings new meaning to not just the ways we celebrate but to what those celebrations tell us about ourselves and our communities. Contributors: Theodore Caplow, Gary Cross, Matthew Dennis, Amitai Etzioni, John R. Gillis, Ellen M. Litwicki, Diana Muir, Francesca Polletta, Elizabeth H. Pleck, David E. Proctor, Mary F. Whiteside, and Anna Day Wilde.
Publication Date: 2004-12-01