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Every December, millions of African Americans will have a seven-day celebration to honor and learn about their heritage. The name "Kawnzaa" is derived from a Swahili phrase meaning "first fruits." It is traditionally celebrated with African drums, songs, dances, and a large traditional meal. Each night, a candle is lit on the Kinara (candleholder) and one of seven principles involving family, friends, and cooperation is discussed to reinforce African cultural values.

Kikombe cha Umoja
(The Unity Cup)

The cup is passed around each night after lighting the kinara and family members take a sip in honor of their ancestors.

(The Corn)

One ear of corn will be placed on the table for each child in the family to represent that child and the future they embody. If there are no children, two ears will be placed to represent all the children in the community.

(The Mat)

A mat made of African fabric or straw is placed in the center of the table to represent African history and tradition – the foundation on which African American lives and communities are built.

(The Gifts)

Generally, the gifts from parents are symbols of labor and love that will celebrate help educate children about African-American culture. A book is one of the most common gifts. Children will often make a gift for their parents by hand to express their creativity and show commitment.

Mishumaa Saba
(The Seven Candles)

The seven candles represent the seven principles of the Kwanzaa celebration which African people are urged to live by.

Click here to light each candle and to learn more about its meaning.

(The Crops)

Fruits and vegetables represent the African harvest festivals that celebrate the rewards of productive and collective hard work.
Traditional table setting

Click on the plus buttons to reveal the meaning.

Day 1: Umoja

Strive for harmony in the family, community, nation, and African-American race.

Day 2: Kujichaguila

Speak for yourself and create your own path.

Day 3: Ujima
(Collective Work and Responsibility)

Work together to maintain and build the community help to solve one another's problems together.

Day 4: Ujamaa
(Cooperative Economics)

Build and maintain businesses and use the profits to help the community.

Day 5: Nia

Set a collective goal to improve the community and restore people to their traditional greatness.

Day 6: Kuumba

Do everything possible to leave the community more beautiful and beneficial that when you got there.

The sixth day is when a big feast, or karamu, is held. Family and friends gather together to celebrate with a banquet of traditional foods, song, and dance.

Day 7: Imani

Believe in the Afrian-American people, parents, teachers, leaders, and the worthiness of past struggles.

You finished lighting the candles.

To go back and look through the days of Kwanzaa again,
click the reset below.

The Seven Days of Kwanzaa

Click on the buttons below to learn about the day. Start with the button in the middle.
The center black candle is lit first; then the far red candle, after that, the far green is light. The lighting alternates back and forth until all the candles are lit.