Stop The Cap: Debunking Myths About Kwanzaa

Multi-generation family celebrating Kwanzaa

Photo: Getty Images

Kwanzaa has begun!

The annual weeklong celebration begins on December 26 every year. The holiday is a valuable time for families to celebrate African American culture and African heritage while reaffirming important values like cooperation, faith, and unity. While information about Kwanzaa has been accessible since its conception in 1966, misinformation about its origins and purpose has become all too prevalent.

Keep scrolling to see some common misconceptions about the Black American holiday debunked.

MYTH: Kwanzaa is a made-up holiday

TRUTH: Several critics and sources have called Kwanzaa a fake or "made-up" holiday due to its origins. Kwanzaa is a celebration created by activist Dr. Maulana Karenga, but that doesn't delegitimize it as a holiday. Mother's Day, which is a nationally-recognized holiday, has similar origins. It was born from American Anna Jarvis' desire to honor her mother and her contributions to women's rights. As Mother's Day is dedicated to maternal figures, Kwanzaa is a way for Black Americans to celebrate their culture and African heritage.

MYTH: Kwanzaa is a religion.

TRUTH: Kwanzaa is a nonreligious Black American holiday.

MYTH: Kwanzaa is an African holiday.

TRUTH: Kwanzaa is technically a nonreligious Black American holiday. People often mistake it as an African holiday due to the focus on African values and the use of Swahili terms. With that said, Kwanzaa has been celebrated by millions of African descent across the world. Nowadays, it's more recognized as a Pan-African holiday worldwide.

MYTH: You can't celebrate Christmas if you celebrate Kwanzaa.

TRUTH: Dr. Karenga originally created Kwanzaa as an alternative to Christmas and other holidays, but Black families don't have to give up Christmas. In fact, plenty of participants celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa, which works out well since Kwanzaa begins on December 26 every year. Some even celebrate New Year's during Kwanzaa.

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