Although Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday in the United States, it is still an important cultural holiday for many people. Observed from December 26th to January 1st, Kwanzaa is a celebration of heritage often observed in addition to Christmas and New Year.
Started in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa was created as a way of allowing African Americans to celebrate a traditional first fruits festival in the US. Popular all over Africa, first fruits festivals are held throughout December and January as a way of celebrating harvests and the solstice. In America, however, it was difficult for African Americans to hold these festivals, which is why Karenga began Kwanzaa. The goal was to promote unity and an opportunity for people to reconnect with their African heritage.
During Kwanzaa, families celebrate by wearing traditional African clothing (such as dashikis) and meditating on the 7 daily principles of Kwanzaa. Large feasts are enjoyed by families with a focus on traditional African dishes and Southern cooking. Children and adults alike also often play games like mancala or exchange gifts.