Is Kwanzaa a real holiday?
In modern use, a holiday has become any special day of rest or relaxation, away from work or school. In America, holidays are considered special days--days having special importance for people, the government, and religious groups.
A holiday can be an official or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, usually accompanied by festivities or celebrations. An example of an official holiday would be Martin Luther King Jr Day, and an example of an unofficial holiday would be people taking off from work on Marcus Mosiah Garvey's or Malcolm X' (El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) birthdays.
Kwanzaa, from its beginning, has been a cultural celebration. Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa as a means for Afrikan-Americans to reflect on their past, pay homage to their ancestors and connect with their Afrikan roots and heritage. To have survived the Middle Passage, enslavement, the second Middle Passage, and Jim Crow, were triumphant achievement deserving of celebration. Why would a people who have survived such inhumanities and continue to struggle, not want to honor their victories? In honoring and celebrating our victories we honor and celebrate our humanity! If we don't honor our victories then who will? (Look at Touissant L'Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, two men who if we celebrated our victories would be larger than any Western hero, the likes of Washington, Jefferson, or Napoleon, that we now celebrate.)
It matters little who created the holiday, the question is, "Are events or achievements of our history and culture worthy of celebration?" Look at Thanksgiving: Native Americans, who played a central role in the first Thanksgiving, a role that without them, the Pilgrims would have starved to death, have nearly been genocided by descendants of those same Pilgrims. And yet many Afrikan Americans who have native American blood in their veins, continue to celebrate a holiday that could be viewed as a celebration of the genocide of their native Americans ancestors. The bottom line is, for people who celebrate Thanksgiving, it is not about genocide but survival. Afrikan people celebrate it for this reason, and the in-gathering of family. Look at Christmas: Christmas is a blend between the mythology of Wodan and the Wild Hunt and the mythology of Heru of ancient Kemet (Afrika). The holiday was crafted by Pope Gregory I to entice Germanic pagans to become Christians. This is documented history, but none of this stops Christians from celebrating.
Is Kwanzaa a made-up holiday? Yes! All holidays are. People create holidays or holy days, not the Supreme Being (God). It is a human expression and construct, and thereby, a human right—the right to celebrate one's self and people. Those that question Kwanzaa's right to exist, to be celebrated, are questioning a people's right to celebrate their history and culture. Now who would want to do that?