Kwanzaa is an annual celebration of African-American culture that is held from December 26 to January 1. The name Kwanzaa comes from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza”, which means “first fruits of the harvest” in Swahili. It is a celebration of African-Americans and their cultural heritage and traditional values. Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, although some people celebrate Kwanzaa and Christmas together.
Each of the seven days corresponds to the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba) and faith (imani).Kwanzaa in its current form was created and popularized by African Studies professor Dr. Maulana Karenga during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The celebration's roots trace back to agricultural traditions in ancient Africa, when ancient tribes and societies marked the first harvests of the season with a feast. Its modern iteration re-enforces core values of African culture and celebrates African heritage. 

How Is Kwanzaa Celebrated?

Participants decorate in Kwanzaa’s colors (red, green and black) and light candles in a special candle holder (kinara). The daily candle-lighting ritual provides the chance to reflect on the Kwanzaa principle of the day.

The holiday culminates with a large feast and gift giving. During the communal feast called Karamu on December 31, participants decorate the table with ears of corn (one for each child in the family) and drink from the unity cup (kikombe cha umoja) to honor their ancestors. The focal point of the meal is often a one-pot stew, such as Ghanaian groundnut stew, West Indian or South African curry dishes, Philadelphia pepper pot stew, jambalaya, Nigerian jollof rice, or Senegalese thieboudienne. The most-important thing is that the meal is shared. On the seventh day of Kwanzaa, participants exchange presents.


FAACT Kwanzaa Crossword Puzzles and Word Searches

You won't want to miss FAACT's Kwanzaa-themed educational crossword puzzles and word searches. These are fun puzzles to do at home or share with your classmates and friends.

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