Just what is Kwanzaa? Unlike Christmas, Ramadan or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa is unaffiliated with a major religion. One of the newer American holidays, Kwanzaa originated in the turbulent 1960s to instill racial pride and unity in the black community. This annual holiday, which takes place over seven days from December 26 to January 1, brings family, community, and culture together for many African Americans. December 26, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of this widely celebrated holiday.
With this vibrant new Kwanzaa stamp design, the U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Kwanzaa. StampNews.com invites our readers to appreciate the original design of this philatelic item!
The colorful stamp art features a young African-American woman as the embodiment of Africa. She wears a lavender dress with a collar of African design that also appears in her earring. In front of the woman sits a large purple bowl. It overflows with fruits and vegetables, symbolizing the abundance of African first harvest celebrations.
Created in 1966, Kwanzaa draws on African traditions, deriving its name from the phrase “first fruits” in Swahili, a widely spoken African language. It has its origins in first harvest celebrations that occurred across the African continent in ancient and modern times. Kwanzaa synthesizes and reinvents these tribal traditions as a contemporary celebration of African-American culture.
The three primary colors of Kwanzaa—red, black, and green—also hold special significance for the holiday and its participants. Red indicates the blood shed during struggles endured by those of African descent, black symbolizes the African people, and green signifies growth and renewal. Adopted to help unify African Americans from a wide array of religious and cultural backgrounds, these colors also appear on the Kwanzaa flag, which is prominently displayed during the weeklong celebration.
Artist Synthia Saint James worked with art director Greg Breeding, who designed the stamp.
This is the sixth stamp design issued by the U.S. Postal Service in celebration of Kwanzaa. The first Kwanzaa commemorative stamp was issued in 1997. New designs were also issued in 2004, 2009, 2011, and 2013.