is a very special holiday. African Americans celebrate the holiday between Christmas,
Hanukkah, and New Years, December 26 - January first.
The celebration is one of a kind, and for seven
nights family members gather around the main meeting place, the table.
The history behind this special holiday begins with its founder, Ron “Maulana” Karenga, back in 1967. I love the meaning
behind each of the seven days, as it stems from the fruits of an old African tribe.
Today, families gather during this time and decorate their homes with the traditional colors,
black, red, and green.
The children are very much
involved in the entire holiday.
Emphasis is put on family values.
Unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith create
the atmosphere for reflection during this time. Gifts are given, but very simple in nature. Adults encourage
their children to make home made gifts.
These two pictures share with you what the Kinara
or candleholder looks like. One black candle in the middle, with
three green and three red candles on either side.
Each night a candle is lit by a family member. The children are involved
also in lighting candles.
This is a great hands on learning and educational event for children.
Adults also will let the
children decorate around the home along with table accessories. Black, red, or green construction paper can be used for the
children to create their own placemats. An idea for you is to laminate them so the children can keep them.
There are many different items you can use to create a festive mood in your home.
You can get a
Dwarf shrub for Kwanzaa,
and decorate with red garland, and black, red, and green ornaments. You can also use a miniature Christmas tree.
Have the children get involved and decorate streamers in the three colors.
I love that fact the African American families
take to heart their past and also decorate at this time of year with meaningful photos, African baskets, pictures of harvest fruit,
The second picture above shows you some colors in the original dress that was worn. Today some men, women, and
children will dress in the original garb to show how proud they are of their heritage.
Another special meaning is if a household doesn't have
any children. A saying that is used is, "It takes a village to raise a child."
To symbolize this, a small basket is placed on the table with one
ear of corn.
Although Kwanzaa is celebrated mostly in the United States, other African Americans are beginning to see the importance of
this special celebration and history.
This is a great holiday to decorate your interior.
Create an atmosphere using the black, red, and green. African bowls with
the holiday fruit on the table enhances the meaning of the seven days.
Feel free to check out other
Christmas and Hanukkah are very special holidays. This holiday celebrated
by African Americans adds another dimension to the uniqueness of different cultures.
I remember when I was working with a teacher
in the 4th grade in Rochester, New York years ago. The children got to learn about all three of these holidays. They not only
gained knowledge of the history, but also the food and decorating ideas of the tradition of each holiday.