MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Hundreds of people gathered at the Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis to celebrate Kwanzaa.
There are 7 days of Kwanzaa, explains Antoinette Williams, who owns the store Rituals. The first day of celebration this year began on Dec. 26 – a day called Umoja which highlights unity.
“It ends on Jan. 1 with Imani. And it is about faith and it is a way that we bring in our new year believing with our hearts, and our souls, that our people, parents, leaders, will experience victory in our struggle as a people,” Williams said.
Williams explains the significance of the fourth day of Kwanzaa, called Ujamaa – celebrated on Saturday.
“This is a day called Ujamaa, and it stands for cooperative economics which is especially close to my heart because it is encouraging people in our community to build and maintain our shops and to support each other,” she said.
Williams said that as a child, she remembers being overwhelmed by the holidays and wanting material gifts.
“What we would do is spend all our money on the holidays, and then spend the rest of the year paying it back for whatever it was that our children said they had to have,” she said.
During Kwanzaa, one gift is given each day, but many times it is a handmade item.
The celebration was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, and is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years.
Williams said the name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.”