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Kwanzaa celebration starts at City Hall in Paterson, New Jersey

Kwanzaa celebration starts in Paterson
Kwanzaa celebration starts in Paterson 01:45

PATERSON, N.J. - Monday marks day one of the weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa. Officials in Paterson, New Jersey kicked off the celebration at City Hall. 

Umoja, meaning unity in Swahili, is the the first of seven principles celebrated throughout the seven days of Kwanzaa. 

Paterson celebrated with music from the traditional djembe drums and dance at City Hall. 

"If that doesn't put us in the mood of African spirit, I don't know what will," said Paterson Deputy Mayor Janet McDaniel. 

The city's celebration honored Paterson's own Alonzo Moody for his work with the city's at-risk youth. The celebration starts with a libation - water poured into dirt, representing new growth. 

"We say it four times to represent the four corners of planet Earth in which African people have laid their foundation on every continent here on the planet Earth, from the north, south, east and west," said Shombay Trainer. 

Kwanzaa itself is 66 years old this year. Leaders and its celebrants don't want it to be mistaken for a replacement for Christmas, but instead want it to be known as a cultural celebration birthed out of resistance. 

Seven candles represent Kwanzaa's seven days, with a different principle celebrated each day. 

  • Umoja - Unity
  • Kujichagulia - Self-determination 
  • Ujima - Collective work and responsibility
  • Ujamaa - Cooperative economics 
  • Nia - Purpose 
  • Kuumba - Creativity 
  • Imani - Faith

"It's not just about a one day celebration, or seven days. It's about taking those principles and making them a part of our entire life and that would make us all better people," said Waheedah Muhammad. 

Kwanzaa ends on Jan. 1. 

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