From December 26th to January 1st, millions of people will be celebrating Kwanzaa around the world. This is a celebration of the "First Fruits of the Harvest" which got its start in the mid sixties when America was experiencing the civil rights movement.
Each day of the celebration, a candle is lit in a Kinara. Today, on the first day of Kwanzaa, a black candle is lit to symbolize the people. To the left of the black candle are three red candles, representing the people's struggles. To the right of the black candle are three green candles, symbolizing the people's hope for the future. The candles are lit from left to right, one candle for each day of the celebration.
The focus was and continues to be on family, community and culture within the African American perspective. For almost 40 years, the week long event has focused on providing a context and commitment of common ground, cooperative practice and shared good in the black community and with all others.
Kwanzaa is neither a religious nor a political holiday, but a celebration of African heritage and traditional African values. Kwanzaa is celebrated in addition to Christmas or Hannukah and is not meant as a replacement for either holiday.
Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of African Studies at California State University, pretty much founded Kwanzaa. He was quoted in NewsReviewOnline saying: "Kwanzaa is a celebration of the family which first forms us, names, nurtures and sustains us, and teaches us upright and uplifting ways to understand and assert ourselves in the world."
There are seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah)To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)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.
Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Below is a promo for a documentary on Kwanzaa and it's origins:
Learn more about Kwanzaa:
What is Kwanzaa online story for early years -
Official Kwanzaa site
Learn about the history of Kwanzaa
Count to ten in Kiswahili http://www.kwanzaaland.com/children/counting.html
The symbols of Kwanzaa, explained for kids
Learn about the Kwanzaa candles with this interactive book