Each year, Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 as a reinforcement of seven basic values of African culture. The holiday offers the opportunity of strengthening traditions and a sense of community among African Americans and Africans throughout the world.

Those Seven Principles, also known as, Nguzo Saba were developed by Dr. Karenga, according to Disciples Home Missions.

The word Kwanzaa is taken from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” translates to “first fruits.”

The seven-day celebration focuses on Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Kwanzaa can be celebrated in a variety of ways, including sharing quotes, prayers, greetings, and blessings.

In honor of the holiday, International Business Times has compiled some thoughtful sayings from Good Morning Quote and AZQuotes that can be shared during Kwanzaa:

  • “The [Kwanzaa] holiday, then will of necessity, be engaged as an ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture.” — Maulana Karenga
  • “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “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.
  • “Do what you do. This Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve, Twelfth Night, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Paddy’s Day, and every day henceforth. Just do what you do. Live out your life and your traditions on your own terms. If it offends others, so be it. That’s their problem.” — Chris Rose
  • “For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” — Maya Angelou
  • “We have religious holidays and we have secular holidays. I see Kwanzaa as an opportunity for African-Americans to reaffirm ourselves if we choose to, a chance to rebuild and renew our focus. I see Kwanzaa as a holiday of the spirit.” — Jessica Harris
  • “Kwanzaa is a pan-African celebration of heritage and culture and family and community. The principles and the manner of observing the holiday lift up traditional values that are key to our lives.” — Janine Bell
  • “Kwanzaa is a holiday that should be celebrated by everyone, not just the black community.” — Jacqui Lewis

There are several seasonal blessings that can be shared throughout the celebration of Kwanzaa:

  • From Umoja to Imani, may all the blessings of Kwanzaa be yours.
  • Take pride in each other and give thanks for this beautiful Kwanzaa.
  • Kwanzaa is a reminder that good things happen around a table.
  • May peace, love, and unity bring a happy Kwanzaa to you.

Consider including a special prayer during the Kwanzaa holiday:

We give thanks to God for all the blessings of the earth, and honor for the great goodness which is manifest in all of creation.

We ask that the spirit of Kwanzaa be infused into every aspect of our daily lives, that we may constantly remember the benefits and obligations of family, community, and nationhood.

May the light of the seven candles illuminate our daily affairs and guide us into fulfillment of our true potential.

May we always remember our ancestors with reverence and love, and may they share with us their great wisdom and strength as we seek to preserve and continue the heritage they have left us.

May the NGUZO SABA become beacons to us to live lives in service, humility, unity, faith, love, and strength.


Kwanzaa is a special celebration that takes place from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Mario Tama/Getty Images