Kwanzaa 2017
In celebration of the Kwanzaa holiday, Sduduzo Ka Mbili performes a traditional Zulu warrior dance at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, Dec 23, 2003. Getty Images/Spencer Platt

The African-American celebration of Kwaanza is here and festivities begins Dec. 26 and continues through Jan. 1.

Originating during the 1960s civil rights movement, the African-American cultural holiday is a way for people to gather as a community around seven principles that men and women of all races and backgrounds can learn from. These include: For Day 1, Umoja, which means unity; Day 2, Kujichagulia, which means self-determination; Day 3, Ujima, which means working together; Day 4, Ujamaa, which means supporting each other; Day 5, Nia, which means purpose; Day 6, Kuumba, which means creativity; Day 7, Imani, which means faith, especially faith in oneself.

Here are some quotes and prayers to share during the celebrations, courtesy AZQuotes and Inspirational Quotes Café.

  • The seven principles of Kwanzaa -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith -- teach us that when we come together to strengthen our families and communities and honor the lesson of the past, we can face the future with joy and optimism— Bill Clinton.
  • Kwanzaa is essentially a family holiday, whether it be the nuclear family, the extended family, or the communal family — Jessica B. Harris
  • Kwanzaa does not replace Christmas and is not a religious holiday. It is a time to focus on Africa and African-inspired culture and to reinforce a value system that goes back for generations— Eric V. Copage.
  • The fact that there is nowhere on the African continent a holiday named Kwanzaa ... Kwanzaa is an Afro-American holiday which by its very definition reflects the dual character of the identity and experience of the Afro-American people— Maulana Karengas.
  • Kwanzaa is a special time to remember the ancestors, the bridge builders, and the leaders— Dorothy Winbush Riley.
  • The ultimate destiny and aspiration of the African people and twenty million American Negroes are magnificently bound up together forever— Lorraine Hansberry.
  • Our children need the sense of specialness that comes from participating in a known and loved ritual. They need the mastery of self-discipline that comes from order. They need the self-awareness that comes from a knowledge of their past. They need Kwanzaa as a tool for building their future and our own— Jessica B. Harris.
  • Kwanzaa isn't a replacement for Christmas or even Hanukkah. Kwanzaa has nothing to do with religion and while some may twist it to be political, in its nature it is not. Kwanzaa is not the tool of its creator. Kwanzaa has a life of its own. Kwanzaa is about the spirit of people — all people regardless of color or race. Kwanzaa is a holiday of the human spirit — not the divine. The two were meant to co-exist peacefully— author unknown

Here are some seasonal blessings associated with Kwanzaa:

  • “May a Happy Kwanzaa be followed by a happier year!”
  • “May you enter the New Year with all the promises the Nguzo Saba hold!”
  • “Kwanzaa yenn iwe ha heri! (Kwanzaa happiness to all of you!)”

You can also recite this church prayer for Kwaanza:

O come all you faithful, rejoicing and victorious,

Come, let us embrace the mystery in the spirit of life, as we celebrate the goodness of Kwanzaa and the African American heritage.

Come and give thanks for companions on the journey in the struggle for freedom and justice.

Our roots in the soil and soul of Mother Africa reach far and wide.

Creator of all, lead us to be true to our nature with respect and dignity for life, from conception to its natural end at death.

Bless and keep us in solidarity one to another.