Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday celebrating black heritage. It was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett) with the hope to educate his people about African-American struggles and their rich cultural heritage.

The holiday lasts for seven days beginning on December 26th. It binds the African harvest customs and the social history of African-Americans. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the East African Swahili phrase “Mantunde ya kwanza” which translates as “the first fruits”. The second “a” was added to give the name seven letters which corresponds to the seven symbols, the seven principles, and the seven days of Kwanzaa.

Families and friends gather at meal time. The unity cup is passed from person to person with each one saying something positive about the African-American community. Next, the candles of the kinara are lit and the principles are recited. Everyone talks and dances as the family joins together to rejoice in their heritage.

Kwanzm Yenu Iwe Na Heri!
“May your Kwanzaa be happy!”

Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Myers (above), 66th Air Base Wing
noncommissioned officer in charge of the Military Equal Opportunity office, demonstrates a Kwanzaa ritual where she lights a candle in the Kinara. photo by Christopher Myers Image from

Use the navigation links on the left to find articles, crafts, recipes, and more goodies for Kwanzaa.

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The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Each day of Kwanzaa concentrates on one of these principles. umoha (oo-MO-jah): unity “a commitment to the practice of togetherness both within the family and in our communities” ====== ============ kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah): self determination “the interest of developing and patterning our lives and images after ourselves instead of having it done for us” ====== ====== [...]

The Seven Symbols of Kwanzaa

mkeka (mm-KEH-ah) a woven mat, symbolic of black history, typically the other symbols are place upon the mkeka mazao (mah-ZAH-oh) fruits and vegetables symbolic of the harvest kinara (kee-NAH-rah) a candleholder, symbolic of the history and people who died in Africa many years ago mishumaa saba (mee-SHOO-mah SAH-bah) the seven candles, representing the seven principles [...]

Mancala Gameboard

skill level: easiest cost: under $5 craft time: 20 minutes This game originated in Africa. It is loads of fun and “board” is easy to make. cardboard egg carton (dozen egg size) 2 tuna cans, washed, rinsed, and dry craft paints, in preferred colors 48 marbles, beads or beans Paint egg carton, inside and out, [...]

Kwanzaa Placemat

skill level: easiest cost: under $5 craft time: 15 minutes construction paper: black, red and green tape clear contact paper Cut black construction paper into 10 strips measuring 24″ x 2″. Lie them side by side; use a long piece of tape to secure at the top. Cut red construction paper into 6 strips measuring [...]

Kinara Glass Centerpiece

skill level: easy cost: $5-$20 craft time: 30 minutes 7 votive glass candle holders frosted glass spray in red, green and black 7 votive candles large round dish small artificial fruit and vegetables small artificial flowers Spray the outside of 3 votive glass candle holds with red paint. Spray the outside of 3 votive glass [...]



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