Kwanzaa is an African American cultural holiday. The name comes from Swahili "mutanda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits".
First fruits celebrations originate from ancient Egypt and Nubia. They were the inspiration for the modern version of Kwanzaa founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, a time of African Americans' struggle for civil rights.
Kwanzaa is celebrated between Dec 26 and Jan 1, honouring human dignity, community, culture and people's relationship with the environment. Respects are paid to the ancestors and new commitments to one's community are taken on. Each day of the festival focuses on a different one of seven values including Umoja (Unity), Kujichaguilia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).
During the festival homes, churches and places for communal gathering are decorated in black, red and green signifying future and hope. On Dec 31 a big feast (Karamu) takes place which is usually a product of joint communal effort.