An African-American festival ‘Kwanzaa’ is celebrated is one of the cultural celebrations all around the world. The name was derived from the phrase ‘matunda ya kwnaza’ which means ‘first fruits’ in Swahili. This festival is celebrated with great joy and happiness. Music performances like dance and songs are part of the celebrations.
African drums, narration of stories, poems and scrumptious traditional meals are part of the celebrations. It is a week long festival and each day signifies one special tradition. The family and close friends gather every night to enjoy the dinner together. It is a period of communities meeting and having fun together.
First day – The first day of Kwanzaa is observed on 26th December and starts with lighting of black candle in the Kinara. The color black symbolizes the first principle – Umoja. It means unity. Person lighting the black candle gives the explanation and the importance of this day. He/she can convey this message by reading poems, passages or can quote and example related to his/her life.
The day is enjoyed with fruit juices which are shared with everyone. Some of the families use unity cup for each member which is later left on the Kwanzaa table. The candles are left on the table and are extinguished till the next day.
Second day – The second is on 27th December and represents the second principle of Kwanzaa. Kujichagulia is the second principle which means self determination. The black candle is again lit with the farthest red candle towards the left side of kinara.
This day has its own significance and it relates to it. Each family member reads a passage or poem to give the explanation which is followed by sharing of unity cup.
Third day – 28th December is the third principle day of Kwanzaa which states Ujima. This principle states collective work and responsibility where the entire family shares the cup of unity. First the black candle is lit then red followed by the farthest right green one.
Fourth day – The 29th December is the fourth day of his festival which states the principle of Ujamaa. This means collective economics; discussed by the entire family. On this day after lighting up the black, red and farthest green candle; the next red candle is left.
Fifth day – Fifth day falls on the 30th December which states the fifth principle of Kwanzaa. After lighting all the previous principle candles the next green candle is lit. One person from the family explains about the importance and shares the unity cup with everyone. The principle states Nia which means purpose.
Sixth day – 31st December is the sixth day of celebrations which signifies the sixth principle Kuumba i.e. creativity. This day is very special because it falls on the New Year eve. The entire family enjoys the Kwanzaa Karamu which is special feast to mark the significance of this festival.
People decorate their homes and you can find the complete festive mood on this day. Kwanzaa decorations add extra beauty to the ambience. People wear new clothes which are their traditional attire and dance on the rhythms of African American music. Guests are invited and people visit their close friends.
The younger ones are encouraged to read motivational poems and messages. This turns the entire day celebration into a very creative atmosphere. People pay homage to their ancestors and share the unity cup. All the candles are extinguished after this day.
The eldest family member reads the Tamshi La Tutaonana which was originally written by Dr. Karenga (creator of Kwanzaa). This is a farewell statement to welcome the New Year.
Seventh day – January 1st marks the seventh and last day of Kwanzaa. Finally, all the candles are lit after reading the importance of the seventh principle Imani which means faith.
This is just the prelude to the beautiful festival of Kwanzaa. Hope you enjoyed reading this and make the best of the seven principles which teaches the important virtues of life.