About Kwanzaa

The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture.  An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.

The candle-lighting ceremony each evening provides the opportunity to gather and discuss the meaning of Kwanzaa. The first night, the black candle in the center is lit (and the principle of umoja/unity is discussed). One candle is lit each evening and the appropriate principle is discussed.
Seven Principles

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.

Unity: Umoja (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Personalized Punch Cups – Party Idea

Look-alike plastic cups have a way of losing themselves in a crowd. To save guests the bother of cup hunting (and avoid waste in the bargain), add large starburst stickers to each cup, along with smaller stars or other stickers for decoration. Next to an assortment of markers, set up a placard directing guests to sign and retain the cup of their choice.

Kwanzaa Greeting Card


  • Creatology™ Chenille Stems – Multi; Red, Green, Brown, Black and Yellow
  • Cards – White
  • Creatology™ Construction Paper
  • Creatology™ Foam Stickers – Alphabet Dotty
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Aleene’s “Tacky” Glue®
  • Paper Envelope


  1. For Card:
    Cut brown construction paper to fit card front leaving ¼ inch white card border.
  2. Use ruler to tear a ½” width of orange construction paper the length of the card, glue in place.
  3. Use foam letters to personalize card on orange paper strip.
  4. Cut chenille stems as shown on card and glue in place.
  5. Use small roll of yellow chenille as light on candles, glue in place.
  6. Use photo as your guide to make envelope and personalizing with foam letters.
  7. For Envelope:
    Cut strip of orange construction paper to 3/4″ x 3-1/2″ and tear off ends as shown. Glue strip to front of envelope.
  8. Cut three green, one black and three red chenille stems to 1/14″ pieces. Glue over construction paper as shown.
  9. Add name using foam letter stickers.

Kwanzaa Kufi – Hat


  • Scissors
  • Duck® Tape – Black
  • Duck® Tape – Green
  • Duck® Tape – Red
  • Stickers – Letters
  • Zots™ Glue Dots
  • Buttons of Choice
  • DMC® Needle
  • Floss
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Glue Gun (Adult Use Only)
  • Parchment Paper


  1. Overlap three 24-inch lengths of black duck tape until it is 4 inches wide. Use the parchment paper to build your sheet of tape on.
  2. Flip piece over, remove paper and fold 1 inch from each side. This creates your band.
  3. Overlap two 24-inch lengths of green tape, flip over, remove paper and fold sides to center to create a 1-½ inch green strip.
  4. ADULT: Glue green band to center of black band.
  5. Use letters to add words around band, gluing black buttons between words.
  6. Cut a 12-inch strip of each color, folding to create a 1-inch strips.
  7. Form an X with the colors, stacking them on top each other.
  8. Sew strips together using button to hold. Fan out.
  9. ADULT: Glue your wide black band together.
  10. ADULT: Glue strips to inside band spacing as shown.