Kwanzaa Series

US #3175 1997 Kwanzaa
US #3175
1997 Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that begins on December 26 and lasts for seven days. It is based on the traditional African harvest festival; the name Kwanzaa is taken from a phrase meaning “first fruits” in Swahili, an East African language.

US #3368 1999 Reissue with 33¢ denomination
US #3368
1999 Reissue with 33¢ denomination
Maulana Karenga, a professor of black studies and a black cultural leader, developed this holiday in 1966. With its synthesis of ancient African practices and African-American ideals and aspirations, Kwanzaa is a non-denominational spiritual celebration. It is seen as a time for the gathering of families, and for rededication to the seven principles of Nguzo Saba, a set of values as expressed by Karenga.
US #3548 2001 Reissue with 34¢ denomination
US #3548
2001 Reissue with 34¢ denomination
The Kwanzaa principles are Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of these principles.
US #3673 2002 Reissue with 37¢ denomination
US #3673
2002 Reissue with 37¢ denomination
Each evening during the holiday, family members light one of the seven candles of the kinara, or candleholder, and then discuss that day’s principle. Often participants exchange gifts. Near the end of the holiday, the community gathers for a feast called karamu, which may include performances, music, and dancing.
US #3881 2004 Kwanzaa
US #3881
2004 Kwanzaa

The seven days and seven principles of Kwanzaa are represented on the 2004 Kwanzaa stamp by seven figures in colorful robes.

US #4119 2006 Kwanzaa Reissue with 39¢ denomination
US #4119
2006 Kwanzaa Reissue with 39¢ denomination

The seven robed figures from the 2004 Kwanzaa stamp line up again on this 2006 holiday issue.

US #4220 2009 Kwanzaa with 41¢ denomination
US #4220
2009 Kwanzaa with 41¢ denomination

There are several items common to a Kwanzaa celebration that have special significance.  They are the mkeka, a straw mat symbolizing the earth; muhindi, ears of corn that symbolize offspring; zawadi, gifts symbolizing the parents’ work and the rewards of children; kinara, a seven-space candle holder, symbolizing the stalk from which the African people grew; and mishumaa saba, seven candles symbolizing the Seven Principles.

US #4373 2008 Kwanzaa with 42¢ denomination
US #4373
2008 Kwanzaa with 42¢ denomination

On each day of Kwanzaa, one of these candles is lit.  The first is the black candle in the center, which symbolizes African people everywhere.  Three red candles, representing the blood of ancestors, are on the left.  Three green candles, symbolizing the earth, life, and promise for the future, are on the right.

US #4434 2009 Kwanzaa
US #4434
2009 Kwanzaa

On the last night, the youngest child lights all seven candles. The black candle represents the African people, three red candles stand for their struggles, and the three green for growth and the future. Each night, they discuss a principle of Kwanzaa. The seven Nguzo Saba principles reinforce the family and community values important to them as African Americans, including unity, mutual support, creativity, and pride in their unique culture.

US 34584 2011 Kwanzaa
US #4584
2011 Kwanzaa

The focus for the final night is Faith. The family honors their forefathers and commits to working together to triumph over adversity. When the discussion ends, all the candles are blown out to symbolize the end of Kwanzaa.

US #4845 2013 Kwanzaa
US #4845
2013 Kwanzaa

The Kwanzaa stamp shows a man, woman, and child in traditional African clothing celebrating Kwanzaa. The seven candles represent the principles of the holiday. The open book symbolizes knowledge.

US #5141
2016 Kwanzaa

The 2016 addition to the series pictures a woman holding a bowl of fruits and vegetables, representing the African harvest celebrations that inspired the first Kwanzaa.

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