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Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural holiday, not a religious observance. The word kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means first fruit.
Although candles are lit during the 7-day celebration of Kwanzaa, illumination is not one of the seven principles observed during the holiday. Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26.
Here is how the Official Kwanzaa Website describes those seven principles. Each principle is named in Swahili, with the English translation in parentheses.
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
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