According to Wikipedia.org, Ron Karenga created Kwanzaa in California in 1966 during his leadership of the black nationalist United Slaves Organization, in order to give African Americans an alternative holiday to Christmas. The holiday celebrates the “Seven Principles of Kwanzaa,” which are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purposes, creativity, and faith. There are a number of ritual items that are intrinsic to the celebration of Kwanzaa. And although the founders of Kwanzaa consider commercialization of the holiday to be against the spirit of the holiday, there are a number of Kwanzaa-themed items are available as well.
Kwanzaa is a seven-day-long holiday based on the Seven Principles, and each day, an additional candle is lit to represent one of these principles. Family and friends gather around the kinara while poetry and passages pertaining to these themes are read. We are here to give you more information on how your family can celebrate the holiday.
To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
On the first day of Kwanzaa, the black candle in the center of the kinara is lit to represent Unity.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
On the second day, the farthest red candle to the left is lit to represent Self-Determination.
To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
On the third day, the farthest green candle on the right is lit to represent Collective Work and Responsibility.
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
On the fourth day, second red candle from the left is lit to symbolize Cooperative Economics.
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
On the fifth day, the second green candle from the right is lit to sumboli Purpose.
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
On the sixth day of Kwanzaa, the innermost red candle is lit to symbolize Creativity.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
On the last day of Kwanzaa, the last green, innermost candle is lit to symbolize Faith.
Color Scheme and Decor
For Kwanzaa the colors are black, red, and green. Black is symbolic of the people, red is symbolic of their struggle, and green represents looking to a prosperous future. Keeping things within the color scheme is a great and simple way to be festive. Also, natural decorations are a great option as well.
A red,green, or black tablecloth would be perfect for the dining room table.
Banners are a nice way to welcome your guests into your home, especially if you are hosting the celebration.
Streamers can work indoors or outdoors, along the ceiling or wrapped around banisters or stairs.
Corn, being one of the traditional ritual items, makes a great focal point for decorations.
Wreaths don’t have to be just a Christmas thing; get ones that celebrate autumn and winter colors.
There are seven ritual items associated with Kwanzaa, plus two supplemental items. Gifts, one of the seven items, are discussed in the section below.
Symbolic of tradition and history; the foundation.
Symbolic of historic roots and ties to the African peoples.
Mishumaa Saba (Candles)
Symbolic of the seven principles, made to reflect the colors of the pan-African flag.
Kikombe cha Umoja (Unity Cup)
Symbolic of the unity which makes everything else possible.
Symbolic of children and the future.
Each family needs one ear of corn for each child. If there are no children in the family, one ear of corn should represent the children of the community.
Symbolic of the African harvest and the rewards of collective labor.
Some fruits native to Africa include the horned melon,tamarind,muskmelons,honeydew melons and cucumber.
A supplemental symbol of Kwanzaa.
Nguzo Saba Poster (Seven Principles Poster)
A supplemental symbol of Kwanzaa.
Gifts are one of the traditional Kwanzaa items and symbolize the care that parents have for their children. Although gifts are more variable than most of the ritual items used in a Kwanzaa celebration, there are a few things that are traditional and symbolic.
One of the two necessary presents for Kwanzaa is a book, which symbolizes continued learning and the importance of education. Since the main idea is that the book should be educational, you may want to choose ones about African history, heritage, and culture. When giving a book to a child, consider getting one that is slightly above his or her reading level. Reading a more challenging story together can become a shared family experience, and this way it can be “grown into,” thus it won’t be seen as childish in just a few months
There are a number of books written for children of all ages about Kwanzaa.
Biographies are a great way for children of all ages to learn about African and African-American leaders in politics, science, civil rights, music, and sports.
Older children and young adults may enjoy reading about ancient African civilizations or the history of Africans in the United States.
The other traditional Kwanzaa gift is a heritage symbol. These are very varied and can be art, jewelry, or almost anything else symbolic of African cultures.
Ancient Egyptian symbol for life.
African sculptures make a beautiful addition to any home.
For information about music from all parts of Africa, check out AfricanMusic.org.
Might be a better choice for a teenager, who won’t outgrow new clothing by next year.