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Kwanzaa is a celebration created in 1966 to help
strengthen and bond African-Americans through studying
the unique human struggle that is at the heart of
African-American culture. The celebration is patterned
after traditional African harvest festivals. Families
and communities are drawn together to examine their
achievements and set goals for the future.
There are seven main symbols associated with Kwanzaa:
1). Mkeka - The straw mat represents the foundations of
2). Kinara - The candle holder represents the original
stalk, the beginnings of African ancestry and genealogy.
3). Muhindi - Ears of corn - One for every child, rep-
resents the challenges and hopes of the offspring.
4). Mazao - Crops(fruits,nuts,vegetables) - represents
the products of collective effort.
5). Zawadi - Gifts - Given to children on the first day
of the New Year to encourage growth, learning, and de-
6). Kikombe cha umojo - The unity cup used exclusively
for pouring libations to the ancestors.
7). Mishumaa saba - The seven candles(three red, one
black,three green) represent seven principles(Nguzo saba):
*Umoja - unity *Kujiichha gulia - self determination
*Ujima - collective work and responsibility
*Ujamaa - cooperative economics *Nia - purpose
*Kuumba - creativity *Imani - faith
A Kwanzaa celebration consists of rituals, food, cele-
bration, and farewell statements. Decorations for the
assembly should include corn, fruits, gourds, or other
symbols of harvest. Red, green, and black are used to
represent fire and determination, earth and hope, and
the power of the people, respectively.
Kwanzaa is observed over the seven-day period from
December 26 through January 1st.
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