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Let's Talk Kwanzaa Facts!

Kwanzaa (spelled Kwanza in African countries) is a holiday celebration of the harvest which runs from December 26th-January 1st. The US began to observe Kwanzaa in 1966 thanks to Dr. Malauna Karenga

Fun Fact! While 18 million people worldwide will be celebrating Kwanzaa, 5 million of those will be celebrating in the US.

The symbols of Kwanzaa and what they mean

(from left to right)

1. Mkeka: a straw mat that symbolizes the tradition of Kwanzaa-the foundation on which all else rests

2. Kinara: A seven-space candle holder represents the stalk form which the African people originated

3. Muhindi: The ears of corn represent the children of the stalk

4. Zawadi: Represents the fruits of the labor by parents and the rewards of the seeds sown by the children

The 7 daily principles of Kwanzaa and what they represent:

The seven candles (called Mishumaa Saba) placed in the Kinara represent the principles of the harvest (called Nguzo Saba). Each day of Kwanzaa is a celebration of the daily principle.

Customs and Celebrations

Kwanzaa is a celebration of the harvest and African heritage. Customs include traditional music, dance, art and readings or prose or poetry with a focus on celebrating origins and ancestors.

Decorations: Families decorate their home with colorful African cloth, and wear traditional African clothing.

Feasts & Gifts: The holiday culminates in feasts and gifts. Libations are often consumed from a traditional shared cup, the Kikombe cha Umoja.

The Children: It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies and to give respect and gratitude to ancestors. Children also play traditional games like Mancala.


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