PHOTOS & VIDEOS
A Holiday Tradition
Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates African American heritage and culture. It is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. Kwanzaa is modeled after a series of cultural principles called Kawaida. According to Kawaida, African Americans can improve their lives by getting back in touch with their cultural roots.
Symbols of Kwanzaa
The celebration features seven principles, or ideas. Many items are placed on a special mat on Kwanzaa table. You can see a flag with red, green, and black. These colors stand for Africa. Corn and crops are also placed on the table. These crops symbolize the harvest.
A main part of the Kwanzaa celebrations include a kinara. This candleholder features seven candles. The center candle is black, which stands for the African people. The red candle stands for blood and the green candle represents the land of Africa.
Lighting the Kinara
The holiday lasts seven days and nights, each marked by the lighting of a candle that represents a principle of family and community. One candle is lit for each day of Kwanzaa. The red and green candles are lit by the flame from the black candle.
Families gather on December 31 for the Great Feast of Karamu. They make foods made with ingredients that the African people brought to the United States. Some dishes might include peanuts, sesame seeds, sweet potatoes or collard greens.