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Kwanzaa is a family affair and seeks to reinforce the bonds between parents and children, and to teach parents and children new views and values that will aid them in self-consciousness and providing support and defense for our people. Therefore, Kwanzaa is the time when Black Americans get together to give thanks, and to enjoy the blessings of living and acting together as a family.

photo provided by AAHA

  1. The following schedule should be used in preparing your family to participate in the Kwanzaa celebration.

    • December 12 - Begin to schedule meetings with family members to assign tasks for the Kwanzaa Celebration.

    • December 19 - Gather and arrange Kwanzaa symbols and any other decorations. Arrange the symbols on a low table or on the floor.

      1. Spread the Mkeka (Straw Mat).

      2. Place the Kinara (Candle Holder) in the center of the Mkeka.

      3. Place the Muhindi (Ears of Corn) on either side of the Mkeka. One ear of corn for each child in the family.

      4. Creatively place the Zawadi (Gifts), Kikombe Cha Umoja (Unity Cup); Tambiko (Water and Soil), and a basket of Mazao fruit on the Mkeka.

      5. Hang up a Bendera Ya Taifa (Flag of the Black Nation). It should be facing the East.

      6. Place Mishumaa Saba (Seven Candles) in the Kinara. Remember the Mishumaa should be red, black and green. Use any creative match you desire.

        Examples - Three Red; Three Green; One Black; Two Red; Two Green; Three Black

    • Begin using the greeting "Habari Gani" and the response "Nzuri Kwanzaa, Nguzo Saba". Note, the response changes on the first day of Kwanzaa to Umoja, on the second day to Kujichagulia, etc.

    • A week of fasting, from sunrise to sunset, to cleanse the body, discipline the mind and uplift the spirit is suggested.

  2. On the first day of Kwanzaa (December 26) the Mtume (leader or minister) calls the family together. When everyone is present, the Mtume greets them; Habari Gani, and the family responds Umoja. THus the Kwanzaa celebration has begun. The celebration is conducted in the following order, substituting each principle for the response on its respective day.

    • A prayer is offered by a member of the family (all standing).

    • Harambee (Let's Pull Together) is a call for unity and collective work and struggle of the family.

      • Each member raises up the right arm with open hand and while pulling down, closes the hand into a fist.
      • Harmabee is done in sets of seven in honor and reinforcement of the Nguzo Saba.

    • The Kwanzaa Song can be used at this time.

    • The Mtume briefly talks about the concept of Kwanzaa, using the theme or focus of Kwanzaa as a sense of direction.

    • The Tambiko (Libation) is performed by an elder. The elder should pour the libation using juice or water from the Tambiko set up in honor of our ancestors.

    • Harambee Symbol.

    • Greeting should be done by the family member (preferably a youth) assigned the lighting of Mshumaa (candle).

    • Lighting Ceremony is performed by the Youth. The Youth should light the Mshumaa (candle) for the principle of the day (i.e. Umoja (Unity) on the first day of Kwanzaa). After the lighting, the principle of the day should be discussed by every member participating in the ceremony. The discussion should focus on each member's understanding of the principle and their commitment and responsibility to practice that principle for the betterment of self, family and Black people..

    • Harambee.

    • A story, song or an object that is reflective of the principle for the day (i.e. Umoja (Unity) - Black Frying Pan) and a Scripture reading related to the principle is essential in reinforcing the meaning of that principle.

    • Share Zawadi (Gifts). In Kwanzaa gifts are played down and spiritual and social rejuvenation is played up. Hand made gifts are strongly encouraged over commercial purchases. Items related to the Black heritage or items that have a special meaning that will help the person through the next year are strongly recommended. The gifts should be reflective of a commitment to education and the riches of our cultural heritage and a sign of the struggle for liberation for Black people. The gifts can be fruits shared each night by members. The gifts can be given to the children in one of two ways:

      1. One gift can be given each day to reinforce the principle for that day, or

      2. On December 31st. during the Karamu (Feast), all gifts can be given.

  3. Karamu (Feast) is held on the night of December 31st. and includes food, music, dance, etc.

    • Harambee.
    • Closing Prayer.

  4. The Kwanzaa Song can be repeated as often as is wished for elevation of the spirits.


    Kwanzaa is a holiday

    Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa

    Is an African holiday

    Seven Principles

    Seven Candles

    Seven Black days for the African



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