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The celebration of Kwanzaa in America is attributed to Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. In 1966, Dr. Karenga established the non-religious festival to honor African ancestry and culture.
Kwanzaa is observed from December 26th through January 1 and is based on seven guiding principles - unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. During the weeklong celebration candles are lit on a kinara, a special seven-candle holder (pictured above).
The highlight of Kwanzaa is the Karamu feast on New Year's Eve when families come together and tables overflow with festive dishes. Traditional Kwanzaa food includes African-American favorites like cheese grits, collard greens, gumbo, black-eyed peas and dishes made with sweet potatoes.
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