Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that was created in 1966. It begins on December 26 and lasts through January 1. The name Kwanzaa come from the language of Swahili and means first fruits of the harvest.
To prepare for the holiday, families decorate their homes with Kwanzaa symbols. They place a mkeka, a straw mat, on the table. Corn (one ear for each child in the family) and other foods are placed on the mkeka to remember the earth's abundance.
Candles are placed in a kinara, a wooden candle holder. A black candle is placed in the center as a reminder of the richness of African-Amercan skin. Three red candles represent struggles and three green candles represent a prosperous future. A candle is lit for each day of Kwanzaa. The black candle is lit first, then red and green candles are lit alternately.
There are seven priciples of Kwanzaa, one for each day. They are Umoja or Unity, Kujichagulia or Self-Determination, Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamma or Cooperative Economics, Nia or Purpose, Kuumba or Creativity, and Imani or Faith.
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