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Kwanzaa Gift Ideas

December 26th - January 1st

Introduced in 1966, this spiritual, festive and joyous occasion emphasizes positive aspects of family, community and African-American culture.

Derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits", Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa. Each day of Kwanzaa includes Swahili greetings, prayer and song, with a focus on "the seven principles" (Nguzo Saba). Kwanzaa decorations consist of seven basic symbols including a hand carved wooden candleholder (Kinara) with one black, three red and three green candles.

As one of the seven principles, creativity (Kuumba) is a big part of Kwanzaa, and homemade gifts are highly prized. An ideal present encourages growth, self-determination, community pride and success. A culminating feast (Karamu) on December 31st is a much-anticipated day.

Gift Ideas
  • Kinara candle holder with one black, three red and three green candles
  • African folk art or heritage symbol
  • Books
  • African-based folktales
  • African-motif fabric or pillows
  • Women of Africa CD from Putumayo
  • Baskets
  • Beads
  • Games
  • African-themed home decor
  • Woven African textiles
Gift Certificate Ideas
Frequently Asked Questions

When are gifts exchanged during Kwanzaa?
Some families enjoy an exchange of gifts throughout the celebration, and relate their daily presents to one of the seven Kwanzaa principles. Others reserve the last day of the holiday for gift giving to children.

What are traditional Kwanzaa colors?
Black, red and green.

I've seen two spellings: Kwanzaa and Kwanza? Which is correct?
Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa added an extra "a" to the word kwanza to distinguish it from the traditional Swahili spelling in Africa.

I've been invited to a Kwanzaa feast. Would it be OK to bring food or a gift?
More than OK, your contribution to the feast would be in keeping with the spirit of community participation-and if you'd like to bring a gift for the children, consider something handmade, educational or specifically related to African culture. For the feast, fruit, breads or specialties with a harvest theme would be most welcome.

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