Symbols of Kwanzaa

Source: Guy Cali / Getty


Kwanzaa  is a celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the African diaspora in the Americas and lasts a week. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.

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The First Day of Kwanzaa (December 26)

On the first day of Kwanzaa the black candle is lit in the Kinara. The black candle represents the first principle – Umoja: Unity. The person who lights the candle might make a statement about the first principle and its meaning. Sometimes a passage or poem is read relating to what the principle means and how it relates to their life.

Then the Umoja (Unity Cup) might be filled with fruit juice and shared among those gathered. Each takes a drink and passes to the next.

Some families prefer to use a Unity cup for each member, or the cup can just be left in the center of the Kwanzaa table.

After the sharing of the Unity cup the candles are extinguished till the next day.

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