Kwanzaa is a week-long festival that honors African American heritage and culture. It was invented by a social activist named Maulana Karenga (who was born Ron Everett, but changed his name to something more "Africanesque" later on) in 1966. It was purposely put around the time of Christmas so people would remember the holiday. Celebrants use a menorah-like object called a kinara to hold ceremonial candles as part of the ritual surrounding the holiday.
There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, each with a Swahili name:
- Umoja (unity)
- Kujichagulia (self-determination)
- Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
- Nia (purpose)
- Kuumba (creativity)
- Imani (faith)
While many have claimed that Kwanzaa, as a made up holiday, has no significance and should not be observed, it must be remembered that, at one time, all holidays were made up.