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The list: 5 facts about Kwanzaa

Man and woman celebrating Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa, a cultural celebration of African heritage and family, is held each year from Dec. 26-Jan. 1.

Kwanzaa, the subject of a new stamp from USPS, begins Wednesday, Dec. 26. Here are five things to know about the annual celebration.

1. Kwanzaa began 52 years ago. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Africana studies at California State University, established Kwanzaa as a cultural celebration of African heritage and family in 1966.

2. Kwanzaa derives its name from a Swahili phrase. The phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” means “first fruits.”

3. Three colors are associated with the celebration. The colors are black for people of African ancestry, red for noble blood and green for the lands of Africa.

4. The celebration lasts for seven days. Each day focuses on one of seven guiding principles: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba) and faith (imani).

5. Candles are a key part of Kwanzaa. Celebrations often feature seven candles — three red, one black and three green — that are placed in a kinara, a candle holder. One candle is lit each day to honor Kwanzaa’s seven principles.

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