The Basics on Kwanzaa and a Yummy Recipe

December 20, 2019

Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural holiday that originated in 1966. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is celebrated from Dec. 26 - Jan. 1. Each day of the celebration focuses on one of seven principles ("Nguzo Saba").

The name, "Kwanzaa", is taken from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits."

"The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa"

  1. Umoja - to maintain unity in the family and community
  2. Kujichagulia - self-determination, to be responsible and speak for oneself
  3. Ujima - collective work and responsibility, to build and maintain a community
  4. Ujamaa - economic co-operation, to help and profit one another
  5. Nia - purpose, to build and develop the community for the benefit of the people
  6. Kuumba - creativity, to do everything possible to leave the community more beautiful and beneficial for future generations
  7. Imani - faith, to believe in parents, teachers and leaders.

A candle is lit each day on the special candlestick, the "kimara", to represent these principles. The kimara is placed on a mkeka, a traditional straw mat, and one ear of corn is also placed on the mat for each child in the family. A fruit basket, called a "mazao", is also displayed, along with a special "unity" cup, out of which everyone drinks.

Here is a Kwanzaa recipe for you to make with the kids that is yummy and easy to make:

Fruit Ambrosia Salad


  • 1 can pineapple chunks in light syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp. orange peel, grated
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 2 medium apples, unpeeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp. coconut


  1. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup juice in a saucepan;
  2. Set pineapple aside.
  3. Add brown sugar and orange peel to the juice;
  4. Heat until sugar dissolves. 
  5. Peel and section oranges into a large bowl, reserving any juice;
  6. Add the apples and pineapple.
  7. Add pineapple juice mixture and stir gently. 
  8. Chill. 
  9. Just before serving, sprinkle with coconut.

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