holiday celebrations | days & dates | fun & wacky daily holidays | holiday travel | holiday blog | holiday greeting cards | holiday recipes | holiday crafts | email

The Symbols of Kwanzaa

Along with the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) and the seven days of Kwanzaa, there are seven symbols or implements that are used in the celebration of the holiday. These seven items are arraigned in an area set up as a Kwanzaa altar or table in the home.

The seven symbols of Kwanzaa are:

Mkeka (m-KAY-kah): The Mat

A mat woven of fabric, raffia, or even paper. The Mkeka is important because the other holiday implements rest upon it.

Symbolizes the experiences, culture, achievements and sacrifices of our ancestors upon which our lives are built.

Kikombe cha Umoja (kee-KOHM-bay cha oo-MOH-jah): The Unity Cup

Representing family and community unity. When the Unity cup filled with water, juice, or wine, a little bit is poured out as reminder and respect for our ancestors. The cup is then passed around and shared with those gathered, with each person taking a sip.

Mazao (mah-ZAH-oh): The Crops

The fruits and vegetables that are the result of the harvest. Bananas, mangoes, peaches, plantains, oranges, or whatever might be the family favorites. The Mazao are placed on the Mkeka and are shared and eaten to honor the work of the people it took to grow them.

Kinara (kee-NAH-rah): The Candleholder

Representing our African ancestors, the Kinara holds the seven candles that symbolize the Nguzo Saba. The Kinara is placed on the Mkeka and holds the Mishumaa Saba (the seven candles).

Mishumaa Saba (mee-shoo-MAH SAH-ba): The Seven Candles

Seven candles, representing the seven principles of Nguzo Saba, which are placed in the Kwanzaa Kinara. The colors of the candles are red, green, and black which are the colors of the Bendera (or African Flag).

Muhindi (moo-HEEN-dee): The Corn

Represents the children (and future) of the family. One suke (ear) of corn is placed on the Mkeka for each child in the family. If there are no children in the family one suke is still placed on the Mkeka to symbolize the children of the community.

The Muhindi also represents the Native Americans who were the first inhabitants of the land. Without whom there would be no corn, also known as Maize. It is used as acknowledgment and respect of their contribution to the culture and ancestors of the African American.

Note: A single ear of corn can also be know as Vibunzi. Indian Corn is sometimes used.

Zawadi (zah-WAH-dee): Gifts

Kwanzaa gifts given to children that will make them better people. The gifts should always include a book, video, or other educational item that will educate and inform the child. There should also be a gift know as a "heritage symbol". Something to remind the child of glory of the past and the promise of the future.

Since Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, you, your family and your community can use great creativity in the observance of Kwanzaa. The area in your home where you set up the Kwanzaa altar or table can be decorated in the same spirit as other holidays. Create posters and banners to hang on the walls, add African sculptures or other artwork to the display. Many crafts and decorations can be created by the children of the home to be used in your Kwanzaa display.

Like this article?

Related Articles:
The Festival of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa Craft Projects, Coloring Pictures & Other Goodies
The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
Celebrating Kwanzaa At Home
Seven Days of Celebration

Add Comment
Kris from Nebraska, US
10:26 04/08/2011
I had heard of Kwanzaa but really didn't know what it was. Needed to do an assignment about Kwanzaa, so glad I did very interesting stuff. Thanks
yousef alghareeb from United Arab Emirates
14:58 04/03/2011
I am very happy to have learned things about Kwanzaa and seen the BLACK Candle by M.K asante jr, wish everyone who read this message a happy day
14:23 03/17/2011
i did it as a class assignment it was kinda interresting
emma from Texas, US
11:59 01/26/2011
hi peeps i celebrate kwanzza
emma from Texas, US
20:04 01/09/2011
hi thx 2 u i aced my assignment. i luv my friend Esther. As a friend.!!!!!!!!! to the pigs!!!
Geneva Grayton from Maryland, US
18:10 12/26/2010
About the Mkeka,look for table place mats ,bamboo, straw type materials.
Valjean Gethers from South Carolina, US
01:12 12/19/2010
My beloved aunt/mother would call children grains of corn. I never knew it had an Afican origin. Thank you for this site. May you continue to enlighten us all with this great information.
emma from Texas, US
11:45 12/15/2010
thanks u rock
devonte from North Carolina, US
14:10 12/08/2010
Thats really good info!
Kyle from North Carolina, US
09:38 12/08/2010
This is very useful information.

Kwanzaa Home | Did You Know? Kwanzaa | When Is Kwanzaa? | Story of Kwanzaa | 7 Days of Kwanzaa
7 Principles | Symbols of Kwanzaa | Kwanzaa Kinara | Lighting the Kinara | Kwanzaa At Home
Kwanzaa Recipes | Kwanzaa Crafts | Kwanzaa Coloring Pix | Kwanzaa eCards | Kwanzaa Stamp
Kwanzaa Blog | Holiday Tweets | Newsletter/Text Msg | Advertise With Us | Link to Us
Contact Us | Sitemap | Kwanzaa Home

All images, animation, text, video, java, javascript, audio, html
© Copyright 1995-2015, Holidays on the Net
Reproduction or other use without written consent is illegal

Visit our other holiday celebrations

Sign up for Free Holiday Newsletters and Text Messages
Email Address:
We'll keep you informed of future Holidays on the Net Celebrations