Celebrating Kwanzaa
Katima, Theatre Arts Production Co. Video-Link

A few years ago when I was seven, one of my sisters came home from her school library with a Kwanzaa book. (KWAHN-za) She brought it to my mom to show it to show it to her. I never really celebrated any other holidays besides the usual. (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving etc.) We were really excited about celebrating a new holiday that dealt with our culture.

My mom sat down and read it to us, and stopped a few times to translate the African words to my sisters and I. When she was done it was agreed that we would start celebrating Kwanzaa that year.

The first day of Kwanzaa is called
Umoja and starts December 26. We could hardly wait for the day to come! Before the holiday began, we got everything ready. We put a straw mat on a table. On top of the mat we placed the Kinara (candleabra) with seven candles. Each candle stands for one of the principles. There are seven priciples or rules. The seven principles are called Nguzo Saba (NGOO-zoo SAH-bah). Each day a candle is lit.

The candle in the center is black. Three candles on one side are red. Three candles on the other side are green. The colors of the candles have meanings. The black color is for the African American people. The red is for their struggles, now and in the past. Green is for their hopes for the future.

Then we put a basket of fruits and vegetables, some ears of corn, and a cup on the table. Next to these were some gifts for the children. Each of these things stands for an important idea.

On the first day of Kwanzaa, we all got together. Most of the time, this gathering is before the evening meal. But some families have their Kwanzaa ceremony in the morning or afternoon. A ceremony is a celebration always done the same way.

My family stood by the table with the mat and candle holder with the seven candles. When everyone was ready, the black candle was lit. Anyone may light it, but I did it that time. The person that lights the candle has to tell the meaning. I said aloud "I light the black candle". " It stands for unity". "Unity means being together which is the most important principle".

After that we all took turns talking. Each of us told why we thought that unity was important.The next part of the ceremony remembers the family members that died. My mom picked up a cup filled with juice and poured it into a bowl. This pouring is to honor those who've died.

After we shared the juice we told stories about our ancestors. The stories I heard were so interesting because I could get a better picture of what went on during slavery times. After Umoja, we celebrate Kwanzaa six more days which are called: Kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-Lee-ah) meaning being yourself, Ujima (oo-JEE-mah) which means helping one another, Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH) which means sharing, Nia ( NEE-ah) which means having a goal or purpose, Kuumba (koo-UH-mbah) which means creating. The seventh day is called Imani which means believing.

I guess you can get a picture of what we do on Kwanzaa, since I've defined the words of the seven days of Kwanzaa.

Another important thing is the symbol of Kwanzaa which is the flag. During Kwanzaa we decorate the house with its colors. The flag stands for all African Americans. It has three broad stripes. The colors are the same as the candles, which are red, black, and green. They mean the same as the colors of the candles also. Just to remind you the colors mean the African American people, their struggles, and their hopes.

I wanted to do this topic for my project because Kwanzaa is important to me. It is a time for learning. It is a time to be proud. It is a time for sharing. It is also a time for fun and joy. Every Kwanzaa I learn something new about my culture and its background. Kwanzaa for me and my family is a very educational holiday, and its not something that you have to, it's your choice. I wanted to find out more information about myself.