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Kwanzaa: Pay Homage With Your Hair and Clothing

Kwanzaa: Pay Homage With Your Hair and Clothing

While most of the world is giddily anticipating Christmas and all of the joy and festivities that come along with it, there are an estimated 18 million people who celebrate another holiday tradition, Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration of family, community and culture. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana Studies, it’s a seven day (Dec 26 - Jan 1) cultural festival that combines communitarian values and practices of Continental African and African American culture. Kwanzaa is intended to unite African Americans together to remember and honor black culture.

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green; black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle.

There are seven core principles of Kwanzaa that were created to be discussed during the week-long celebration. They represent seven values of African culture that help build and reinforce community among African Americans. Each day a different principle is discussed, and each day a candle is lit on the kinara (candleholder). On the first night, the center black candle is lit, and the principle of umoja, or unity is discussed. On the final day of Kwanzaa, families enjoy an African feast, called karamu.   

1. Umoja: Unity - To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

2. Kujichagulia: Self-Determination - To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

3. Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility - To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and solve them together.

4. Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics - To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

5. Nia: Purpose - To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

6. Kuumba: Creativity - 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.

7. Imani: Faith - To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

While there are many practices you can do to honor Kwanzaa, you can also incorporate the Kwanzaa tradition into your clothing and hair. How you decide to dress for Kwanzaa depends on the type of activity you're doing. Whether you feel comfortable wearing complete attires of traditional clothing or you just want some accessories to get into the spirit of the holiday, there are a few guidelines that can help you pick the right Kwanzaa wardrobe. A nice braid or afro of sorts is the perfect hairstyle to complete the look. Take a look at a few Kwanzaa-inspired fashions from the past and figure out a way to respectfully tie them into your wardrobe this Kwanzaa season:



What are some ways that you can incorporate Kwanzaa into your style this year?

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