Courtesy of Kwanzaa Guide

Have you ever wondered what Kwanzaa was really all about? If so, you probably have heard certain things, but are unsure what is fact and what is fiction. Below are some answers to questions you may have about Kwanzaa that separate fact from fiction.

Fiction: Kwanzaa is an African holiday celebrated in Africa.

Fact: Kwanza is an African American holiday which borrows some concepts and practices from Africa. However, Kwanzaa was created specially as an African American holiday. There is no holiday on the continent of Africa called Kwanzaa.

Fiction: Kwanzaa is a religious holiday.

Fact: Kwanzaa is a not a religious, but rather a cultural holiday. Christians, Muslims, African traditional faiths, and secular people celebrate Kwanzaa.

Fact: Kwanzaa was created by an African American. Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga, professor of Black Studies at California State University Long Beach.

Fiction: Kwanzaa can be celebrated only by African Americans.

Fact: Though Kwanzaa is an African American holiday, like Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day, Kwanzaa can be celebrated by all cultures and races. The principles and practices of Kwanzaa have universal value.

Fiction: Kwanzaa is a black Christmas.

Fact: Kwanzaa is not a black Christmas nor is it an alternative to Christmas. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday. The practices and principles are unique to Kwanzaa.

Fact:You can mix your religion with Kwanzaa. You can integrate your religion (prayer, reading of a scripture, paying homage to the Creator) into the Kwanzaa holiday as long as it does not distort the integrity of the holiday and as long as it is not imposed as a mandatory practice.

Fact: You can celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. You can indeed celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa. Millions of people celebrate both holidays.

Fiction: You do not give gifts at Kwanzaa.

Fact: Gifts are given at Kwanzaa. Gift giving is not mandatory and focuses primarily on children and youth. Adult, however, can give gifts.

Fact: Kwanzaa has set guidelines for gift giving. Kwanzaa has guidelines for gift giving. Primarily, gift giving is not mandatory and is done on the basis of Kwanzaa commitments made and kept. Most importantly, whatever gift(s) is given, a book and heritage symbol must be given.

Fiction: You can celebrate Kwanzaa by yourself.

Fact: Kwanzaa is a family and community celebration. The Kwanzaa celebration is a collective and social activity.

Fact: The Seven Principles are the core of the Kwanzaa celebration. The Kwanzaa holiday is organized around each of the Seven Principles.

Fact: You need a “Kwanzaa Set” in order to celebrate Kwanzaa. The “Kwanzaa Set” contains the Kwanzaa symbols. The Kwanzaa symbols like the Seven Principles are an essential aspect and part of the Kwanzaa celebration.