In 1968 Dr.
Karenga wanted to create a way to provide cultural pride and unity for
African Americans. He derived a "holiday" based upon
African rituals and customs. Kwanzaa gets its roots from the ancient
traditional celebrations associated with harvesting the first fruits in
The holiday is seven days long, and each day celebrates a
different cultural aspect (or principle) to reflect and act upon. This holiday is
full of symbols, such as lighting a candle on the Kinara every day to
symbolize a person's African roots.
Principles of Kwanzaa are: (1) Unity, (2) Self- Determination, (3)
Collective Work Responsibility, (4) Cooperative Economics, (5) Purpose,
(6) Creativity, and (7) Faith.
Kwanzaa Facts and History
Official Kwanzaa Website (official): Information, history and
celebratory suggestions about the holiday.
About Kwanzaa (TIKE): Good concise information about the holiday and
Information Center (MelaNet): Information, forum and activities
surrounding the holiday.
Recipes (Nancy): Recipes for the holiday.
Online (official): Information, News and Facts about the countries on
the African Continent.
(official): Virtual game reserve.
History (About.com): The history of Africa.
The Congo Cookbook –
African Recipies (official): Recipies for African cooking.
Gift giving has become a part of the tradition of this
fairly new holiday. Gifts are usually exchanged between the parents
and children, however, friends and family may exchange as well. Gifts do
not need to be large or expensive, however, one or more of the seven
principles should be inherent within each gift. For instance, be creative
with the gift by making something yourself, or work with others
collectively to make or purchase a gift. The opportunities are
limitless. The gifts could also be educational or bestow some faith
in religion or cultural heritage.
If someone does not already follow the holiday, you
might make it easier for them to take the first step if you purchase them
their first Kinara or other symbols of the holiday. This way you are
both doing something nice, and expanding the celebration of this holiday
one person or family. Then one day they might pass on the traditions
Some Kwanzaa gifts may include:
Kwanzaa items for those that do not have
African American or cultural Art or other items
Fruit & Vegetable baskets to celebrate the
traditional harvest celebration
Books on Kwanzaa, Africa or African American
Airplane tickets to Africa or Cruise around Africa