Learn more about the holiday with these Kwanzaa facts for kids!
Did you know that Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American family, culture, and heritage? Started by Dr. Maulana Korenga in 1966, Kwanzaa was initially meant to be a replacement of Christmas for Africans, but instead became an additional holiday to be recognized and celebrated. What other fun facts about Kwanzaa can we learn? Continue reading to find out!
Fun Facts About Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is observed over 7 days.
Celebrated from December 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa spans over seven days with each day focused on a particular moral, belief, or value. Kwanzaa festivities often include poetry readings, African drums, dancing, story telling and feasting.
Kwanzaa has 7 main principles.
The seven principle values include:
- Umoja (unity)
- Kujichagulia (self-determination)
- Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
- Nia (purpose)
- Kuumba (creativity)
- Imani (faith)
Kwanzaa has 7 primary symbols.
As people come together and get ready to celebrate Kwanzaa, there are 7 symbols that are gathered for use in ceremonies. These symbols are:
- kikombe cha umoja (unity cup)
- kinara (candle holder)
- mishumoa saba (7 candles)
- mazao (fruits, nuts, and vegetables)
- vibunzi (ears of corn)
- zawadi (gifts)
- mkeka (a mat to set everything on)
Kwanzaa is observed with 7 candles.
On each day of Kwanzaa, a candle that represents one of the 7 core values is lit. While the candle burns, a particular principle is acknowledged and discussed. The candles are black, red, and green.
The one black candle represents the unity of the people. Three green candles represent the future of African lands and communities. And three red candles represent the past bloodshed from African ancestors in their struggle for freedom.
Kwanzaa is Swahili.
Swahili is considered to be the most unifying language across Africa. There are millions of Africans that speak Swahili, which is where the name Kwanzaa comes from. ‘Matunda ya Kwanza’ is a phrase in Swahili that means “first fruits of the harvest”.
Traditional African clothing is worn throughout the Kwanzaa holiday.
It is customary for women to wear a colorful wrap dress called a kaftan during ceremonies. In addition, men will also fashion colorful attire such as a dashiki and kufi (shirt and hat).
The last day of Kwanzaa is celebrated with a karamu.
A karamu is a large feast that consists of traditional African cuisine. Sometimes a local church or community center will hold the karamu so the entire community can attend together.
Facts About Kwanzaa for Kids
While Kwanzaa is not considered a religious holiday, it is a very meaningful cultural celebration within the African community.
Although Kwanzaa is rooted in African culture, people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds are welcome to join in the celebration. Recognizing traditional beliefs and customs of African descent, Kwanzaa is observed in America, as well as, parts of Canada.