Kwanzaa is one of the most prominent festivals that you can find in America during the winter season. This is a seven-day festival is celebrated by Africans as well as African American. The festival starts on 26th of December every year and lasts till 1st of January on the following year.
What exactly is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is the word that is used to define fresh fruits. This word is derived from Swahili language. It is an eastern African language, which you can find in countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. This festival was created back in the year 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Since then, it takes place annually.
What happens at Kwanzaa?
Now you have a basic understanding of what Kwanzaa is all about. While keeping that mind, let’s take a look at what happens at Kwanzaa.
During this festival, a kinara is used. This is a specialized candle holder. The candle holder is designed to hold up to seven different candles. You can find three red-colored handles on the left-hand side and three green-colored candles on the right-hand side. Likewise, there is a black colored candle at the center. This black colored handle is lit first. Then it will alternate in between the red-colored and green colored candles. This starts from the candles that are located in the far ends and then keep on moving inside. This tradition is quite similar to lighting the menorah at Hanukkah.
The seven different candles and seven days of the festival are representing the seven principles associated with Kwanzaa.
Here is a quick overview of them.
This represents unity of the family, community, race and nation.
This principle reflects to the ability of being responsible for your own behavior and conduct.
Ujima (Responsibility and teamwork)
This principle represents putting some effort in order to help each other and other people who belong to your community.
Ujaamaa (Collaborative economics)
This is all about working in collaboration to create new businesses and develop them along with time.
This is about restoring and remembering the cultures of Africans as well as African Americans. Along with that, their history and customs are remembered as well.
Kuumba is about making the appropriate shift needed in imagination to make the community much better.
Imani is all about believing in families, teachers, leaders, and other people.
The seven symbols at Kwanzaa
While taking a look at Kwanzaa, we will come across the need to learn more about the seven different symbols as well. You will be able to find these seven symbols on top of Kwanzaa. In fact, these symbols are paired with the Kinara and kept on the table.
This is a mat that is made out of paper, raffia or fabric. All the other symbols will be placed on top of this mat. It is representing the foundation.
Kikombe cha Umoja (The unity cup)
The unity cup is representing community and family. It is usually filled with fruit juice, water or wine. Then a little amount of the liquid poured into the cup is taken out with the objective of remembering ancestors. Then cup is then shared in between all the people who are gathered at the event. In fact, every person takes a sip of it.
Mazao (The crops)
This is representing the vegetables and fruits obtained from the harvest. It usually includes mangoes, bananas, plantains, peaches, oranges and many other fruits. All these fruits will be shared at the event.
A one ear of corn will be given to every single child in the family. If a family doesn’t have any children, it will be used to indicate all kids in the community. It is used to resemble Native Americans and future generations.
Kishumaa Saba (Seven Candles)
The seven candles will be placed on top of a candleholder. They are of green, red and black colors as mentioned above.
Kinara (The candleholder)
This is the candleholder that we described above.
Usually, gifts that can aid education are distributed at the event. They include DVDs, books, and games. In addition to that, gifts that resemble African heritage are also shared at the event.
As you can see, this is a unique and a one of a kind festival that is celebrated during the winter season. African Americans consider it as a great method available to remember the black culture. In addition to that, they use it as an excellent platform to come together with others in the community and celebrate the moments of their lives with others.