Every year, the start of Kwanzaa — named after a Swahili phrase for “first fruits” — falls on the first day after Christmas, though it has no formal connection to it.

The celebrations, often held at libraries, communities and churches, are marked by singing, dancing, storytelling, drumming, poetry and, of course, food — everything from fried and barbecue treats to Cajun or West Indian dishes.

It goes on for seven days, though the first is often the biggest. The holiday employs the Swahili language and Pan-African symbolism to emphasize a theme for each day: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

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