In 1966, Maulana Karenga wanted to restore cultural traditions to the African American people and created a the winter holiday called Kwanzaa. Now celebrated by more than 18 million people in the United States alone, Kwanzaa, which means “fresh fruits” in the African language of Kiswahili, has become an integral part of the holiday season.
The holiday, which commemorates traditional African harvest festivals, celebrates the seven principles of Kwanzaa. These key elements of Kwanzaa can be appreciated by people of all faiths and cultures: unity, self-determination, working together, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Small gifts, usually homemade, are given each day through the holiday, with the final festival being held on New Year’s Day.
Take this opportunity to teach your family about Kwanzaa with these fun activities for children of all ages.
A Special Placemat
No matter your cultural or religious background, this is indeed the season to have fun and decorate your home in festive colors and ornaments. You can celebrate Kwanzaa by weaving a special placemat, or a mkeba, to be used at your holiday table.
Take a sheet of black construction paper and fold it in half lengthwise. Using chalk, draw horizontal one-inch lines from the fold to within one inch of each edge. With the paper folded in half, cut on these lines, but be sure not to cut all the way to either edge. Next, cut several one-inch wide, horizontal strips of red and green construction paper. Weave these strips through your black piece of construction paper, alternating the two colors. For added holiday flair, stick holiday stickers on the front of the finished placemat. You can also cover the placemat with clear contact or adhesive paper, or have it laminated, durability and easy clean up.
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