The First Fruits of the Harvest
|When It Falls
||Kwanzaa is an annual festival that lasts seven days, from December 26 to January 1.
||The word Kwanzaa comes from the phrase, 'matunda ya kwanza,' which means 'first fruits of the harvest' in Swahili. Kwanzaa is modeled on the first fruit celebrations of ancient Africa. It is now a celebration of African-American family, community, and self-improvement.
||Kwanzaa was created as a cultural festival in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, now a black studies professor. The festival was created to encourage African-Americans to think about their African roots and develop a higher African-American consciousness.
|Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba)
||Umoja -- UnityKujichagulia -- Self-DeterminationUjima -- Collective Work and Responsibility Ujamaa -- Cooperative EconomicsNia -- PurposeKuumba -- CreativityImani -- Faith
|Ritual Objects & Symbols
Mkeka -- straw table mat, on which all other objects are placed
Mazao -- crops, symbols of the fruits of collective labor
Muhindi -- one ear of corn for each child, symbolizing fertility
Kikombe cha umoja -- the unity cup, used to perform the libation ritual
Zawadi -- gifts, traditional items that encourage success
Kinara -- candleholder, a symbol of ancestry
Mishumaa saba -- seven candles, one for each of the seven Kwanzaa principles
||Each night, the family gathers to light the candles of the kinara, adding one candle for each day of the holiday. A traditional feast is held on the night of December 31.
||Gifts are usually opened on the last day of Kwanzaa, January 1. Gifts are considered part of the "kuumba," or creativity, principle and are encouraged. Traditional presents are books and heritage symbols.
||"Habari gani?", to which one replies with the Kwanzaa principle of the day.
||Most celebrants have a feast, called a karamu, on December 31.
Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture
By Maulana Karenga
Kwanzaa: An African-American Celebration of Culture and Cooking
By Eric V. Copage