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Holiday Traditions Through Various Cultures . Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that begun in America that is celebrated by people of African descent .

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  • Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that begun in America that is celebrated by people of African descent.
  • In 1966, Dr. MaulanaKarenga, a college professor, created Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits” in Swahili. He based the holiday on ancient African harvest celebration and customs.
  • Dr. Karenga felt that African-Americans in his community needed a special time to help them take pride in their glorious past and plan for the future.
  • Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 until January 1.
  • It is not a religious holiday or one that honors a heroic person.
  • It is a time when people of African descent join together to honor the heritage and traditions of their ancestors.
  • During Kwanzaa, everyone pledges to work together to improve themselves and to make their community a better place to live.
  • Kwanzaa is a celebration of the past, present, and the future of people of African descent.
  • Dr. Karenga established special symbols for Kwanzaa, including fruits and vegetables, which stand for the harvest.
  • During the days of Kwanzaa, seven candles- one black, three red, and three green are lighted. They stand for the Nguzo Saba, or “seven principles”.
  • The Nguzo Saba are to be memorized, discussed, and acted upon during the seven days of Kwanzaa and throughout the year.
nguzo saba
Nguzo Saba
  • Day One- Umoja(oo-MUH-jah)

Unity: To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

  • Day Two- Kujichagulia(koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-ah)

Self-Determination: to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named created for and spoken for by others.

  • Day Three- Ujima(oo-JEE-mah)

Collective Work and Responsibility: to build and maintain our community together and make our sister’s and brother’s problems and to solve them together.

nguzo saba1
Nguzo Saba
  • Day Four- Ujamaa(oo-jah-MAH-ah)

Co-Operative Economics: To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.

  • Day Five- Nia(NEE-ah)

Purpose: To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

  • Day Six- Kuumba(koo-OOM-bah)

Creativity: 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.

  • Day Seven- Imani(ee-MAH-nee)

Faith:To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

top five children s kwanzaa books
Top Five Children’s Kwanzaa Books
  • My First Kwanzaa Book by Deborah Chocolate and Illustrated by Cal Massey. This is wonderful children's Kwanzaa book that introduces kids to Kwanzaa and the principles that go along with the holiday.
  • The Children's Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrating the Holiday by Dolores Johnson. It has lovely illustrations to appeal to children and it is a very great educational resource for children, as well. It actually even details the history of African Americans over centuries!
  • My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz. This book tells the story of a young girl's Kwanzaa celebration with her family and friends. It is a lovely children's Kwanzaa book that This story teaches of the seven principles and also introduces children to Swahili words.
top five children s kwanzaa books1
Top Five Children’s Kwanzaa Books
  • K Is For Kwanzaa by Juwanda Ford and Illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. This book teaches children about the holiday through colorful illustrations and easy-to-understand explanations of the seven principles and common words used during Kwanzaa.
  • Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis and Illustrated by Daniel Minter. This story tells the story of seven arguing brothers from Ghana in West Africa. This kids' Kwanzaa story teaches children about Kente cloth and the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
  • Hanukkah is the story of a great victory of the Jews over the Syrian-Greeks. In 165 BCE, led by the Hasmonean family of Mattathias the High Priest and his youngest son, Judah, the Jews succeeded in evicting the Syrian-Greeks from Israel and restored the Temple.
  • According to the Talmud, after the Temple had been cleaned and the Priests were ready to light the Temple menorah, they could find only one jug of oil that was fit to use. This was only enough for one day, but it lasted for eight. This is why Hanukah is eight days long. For eight days beginning on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev we light the menorah to celebrate the victory and the miracle of Hanukah.
  • Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word "Khanu" meaning "and they rested," and from the Hebrew date Kaf Hey which equals 25. That is why we celebrate Hanukah beginning on the 25th of the month of Kislev.
  • The Menorah or candle holder is a really important part of the tradition of Hanukkah. It is why we call the holiday "the festival of light".
  • We light the menorah from the left side to the right side and say the blessing for each candle.
hanukkah how to play dreidel
HanukkahHow to Play Dreidel

Dreidelis a traditional Hebrew game played during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. It shares its name with a four-sided top that has four letters. Together, the letters are a Hebrew acronym for, "NesGadolHaya Sham" or, "a great miracle happened there." In Israel, the letter "pe" replaces the "shin" and the acronym is, "NesGadolHaya Po," a great miracle happened here. With a dreidel and some tokens, you can take part in this holiday tradition, too!

hanukkah how to play dreidel1
Hanukkah How to Play Dreidel
  • Get a group of people together. You can play with as few as two, but the more the merrier.
  • Distribute the tokens evenly among all of the players. The tokens can be any little thing: pennies, nuts, raisins, matchsticks, a lot of people use chocolate candy coins called gelt.
  • Direct each player to place one token in the middle of the circle to create "the pot”
  • Take turns spinning the dreidel. (In some variations of the game, it always starts with the youngest player.) The dreidel will land in such a way that one and only one letter shows on top. According to the letter appearing, the player should perform the action according to the side it lands on.
  • Pass the dreidel on to the next player.
  • Keep playing until someone wins by collecting all the tokens in the pot!
hanukkah how to play dreidel2
Hanukkah How to Play Dreidel
  • Shin ("shtel" or "put in" in Yiddish) - Put one more token in the pot.
  • Nun ("nisht"or "nothing" (in Yiddish) - Do nothing
  • Gimmel ("gantz"or "everything" in Yiddish) - Take all tokens from the pot.
  • Hay ("halb"or "half" in Yiddish) - Take half of all tokens lying in the pot. In case of an odd number of tokens, round up.
top five children s hanukkah books
Top Five Children’s Hanukkah Books
  • Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah by Susan L. Roth. A fun little book that uses the text of the song "Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah" and has illustrations of mice acting it all out. There is a small ration of words to pictures, so it is good for short attention spans or the youngest children
  • Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky. A unique book with beautiful artwork, "Hanukkah at Valley Forge" is a story based on true facts about a Jewish soldier at the battle of Valley Forge who explains Hanukkah to George Washington.
  • Light the Candles by Joan Holub. A cute, short repetitive poem punctuated by flaps the child can lift.
top five children s hanukkah books1
Top Five Children’s Hanukkah Books
  • A Confused Hanukkah: An Original Story of Chelmby Jon Koons. A whimsical book about the village of Chelm who forgot how to celebrate Hanukkah after their rabbi disappeared.
  • D is for Dreidelby Tanya Lee Stone. It tells all about Hanukkah by highlighting a Hanukkah word for every letter, and giving a 4 line rhyme about it. For instance "S is for Shamash, The first candle lit, We light all the other, Bright candles with it!"
work s cited page
Work’s Cited Page
  • Medearis, Angela Shelf. Seven Spools of Thread, A Kwanzaa Story. Morton Grove: Albert Whitman & Company, 2000.
  • Washington, Donna L. Li'l Rabbit's Kwanzaa. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2010.
  • Top Five Kwanzaa Books for Kids. 2012. 19 November 2012. <>.
  • Live Through Books. 10 November 2010. 19 November 2012. <>.
  • BetterWorldBooks. n.d. 19 November 2012. <>.
  • Right Attitudes. 02 December 2010. 19 November 2012. <>.
  • WikiHow. 17 November 2012. 19 November 2012.
  • Insider's Passport. 2010. 19 November 2012. <>.