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Kwanzaa is a celebration that honors African heritage intertwined with American culture. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African culture and inspire African Americans in the United States. Every year the celebration begins on December 26th and lasts until January 1st.
See the fact file below for more information on the Kwanzaa or alternatively, you can download our 27-page Kwanzaa worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BACKGROUND AND PRACTICES
- The term “Kwanzaa” was derived from the Swahili phrase “Matunda ya Kwanza” which means “first fruits of the harvest.”
- In 1966, Dr. Karenga, Professor of Black Studies at California State University, created Kwanzaa as a non-religious and non-political celebration of African American families.
- The celebration is filled with the colors red, green, and black. Red symbolizes the struggle Africans faced for freedom. Green stands for Africa’s fertile land, while black represents the people.
- Kwanzaa follows the seven basic principles called Nguzo Saba. These include Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work), Nia (purpose), Ujamaa (co-operative economics), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). These principles all stand for virtues that African families and communities should possess in relation to commerce, responsibility, and self-improvement.
- The seven day celebration is commemorated by lighting a candle on each day followed by a discussion of one of the seven principles.
- Candles are placed in a holder called a Kinara. A black candle is placed in the middle while three red and three green candles are placed on the right and left respectively.
- Gifts, or Zawadi, are given on the seventh day of the celebration. These gifts are meant to represent encouragement, self-determination, success, and growth for the person receiving them.
- Many families spend the days before Kwanzaa decorating homes with crafts made by the young children in the community. Decorations usually involve the seven symbols made of different materials.
- People celebrating Kwanzaa use glow sticks, whistles, and party poppers to create a festive atmosphere. Loot bags and prizes are also part of the celebration along with many traditional foods, costumes, and decorations.
- Having been founded in 1966, Kwanzaa is now observed by more than 18 million people worldwide.
- Despite coinciding with Christmas Day, Kwanzaa is not meant to replace the event.
- Aside from the traditional seven symbols, days are also celebrated with a bendera, a flag with horizontal stripes of black, red, and green, plus a nguzo saba poster depicting the seven principles.
- In addition to the seven principles of Kwanzaa, Africans also include seven symbols. These include mazao (harvest), mkeka (cloth), vibunzi (fertility), mishumaa saba (principles), kinara (candleholder/family), kikombe cha umoja (unity cup), and zawadi (gifts).
- Mazao or the crops, which usually include vegetables, fruits, and nuts, represent the African-American harvest festival. Families gather to practice sharing, unity, and thanksgiving for their collective work. Moreover, it also symbolizes their commitment to one another.
- The mkeka or place mat, usually made of straw or cloth, stands for Africa’s history, tradition, and culture. During this day, ancient weavers were given importance as people commemorate the traditional way of making mats from straw. All are placed in the mkeka, including the mishumaa saba, the vibunzi, the mazao, the zawadi, the kinara, and the kikombe cha umoja.
- The vibunzi or ear of a corn symbolizes fertility and nurturing during Kwanzaa. Africans are reminded that child rearing is a communal or tribal affair which involves virtues of discipline, respect for others, compassion, and charity.
- The seven candles or mishumaa saba are meant to recreate the sun’s power and provide light. There are three red, three green, and one black candle. Each candle is lit each day representing one principle. Moreover, these colored candles represent African gods, Shango (red), and Yoruba (fire and lightning).
- African ancestors are remembered through the kinara or candle holder like a candelabra.
- The unity cap, known as kikombe cha umoja, is used on the sixth day of Kwanzaa for the libation ritual called tambiko.
- As a reward for accomplishments in the previous year, zawadi or gifts are given to each member of the nuclear family.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Kwanzaa across 27 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Kwanzaa worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Kwanzaa which is a celebration that honors African heritage intertwined with American culture. It was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African culture and inspire African Americans in the United States. Every year the celebration begins on December 26th and lasts until January 1st.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Kwanzaa Facts
- Mapping African Populations
- Kwanzaa Principles
- Famous African-Americans
- Seven Symbols
- African Influence in America
- In 7 Days
- Africa 101
- Kwanzaa Celebrations
- Poem Writing
- Take A Pic
- Proverb Says
- The Khara
- Signs of Unity
- My Own Gift Box
- Power of Seven
- African Proverbs
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Link will appear as Kwanzaa Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 10, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.