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All About Kwanzaa

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WHAT YOU NEED
  • Red, black and green decorations
  • Basket of seasonal fruits
  • Dried or fresh ears of corn
  • A Kinara or candelabra and candles
  • A woven placemat or African cloth
  • A large goblet or decorative cup filled with fruit juice
  • Children's books

HOW TO DO IT
  • Choose a quiet corner and have the children help decorate with African colors: red, black and green. Spread out the placemat or African cloth on a table and arrange the fruits, corn, cup with juice, books and candelabra.

  • Gather the family together.

  • Tell the story:
    • Kwanzaa is a relatively new festival. It was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, of California, as a way for African-Americans and African people all over the world to celebrate their common heritage and values. It is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, that occurs each year from December 26th to January 1st.

      Kwanzaa means "first fruits" and is inspired by ancient African harvest festivals that lasted 7 days. It emphasizes the importance of culture, community, family and learning.

EXPLAIN THE SYMBOLS

  • Pass around the communal cup or goblet for everyone to sip some juice.

  • A traditional Kinara or candelabra has places for 7 candles, representing the number of days of Kwanzaa and its 7 principles.

  • Corn symbolizes children, and their importance to the family.

  • Fruits stand for the rewards of hard work and reminds us of Africa's earliest harvest festivals.

  • Kwanzaa gifts must always include a book for each child and a heritage symbol to encourage learning.

FOLLOW UP FUN
  • Take the children to local farmers markets to gather the fruits and corn. Visit local merchants for traditional decorations.

  • Help the children make a Kwanzaa family heritage book. Include photos, recipes, quotes and stories from everyone in the family for sharing each year.

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