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Kwanzaa is a family-oriented cultural event to which celebrants bring food, fruit and gifts to share. Activities take place indoors and outdoors. At this Kwanzaa celebration, youth assemble the Kwanzaa table. Adults and elders assist youth in lighting the kinara candles as the seven principles are explained and discussed. After the ceremony, celebrants fellowship with food and music. This event is hosted jointly with the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and the Sankofa Study Group. This event is free and, as always, everyone is invited.
The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture.