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The following information was gathered from the University of Pennsylvania (African Studies Center). 

Kwanzaa is an African-Americans celebration of life from December 26th to January 1st.

Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home. Dr. Karenga created this festival for African-Americans as a response to the commercialism of Christmas. In fact one might say that Kwanzaa has similarities with Thanksgiving in the United States or the Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria. The word "kwanza" is a KiSwahili (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) word meaning "first."

Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration. The seven principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa utilize Kiswahili words and are signified by seven candles:

- unity (umoja)

- self-determination (kujichagulia)

- collective work and responsibility (ujima)

- cooperative economics (ujamaa)

- purpose (nia)

- creativity (kuumba) and

- faith (imani)