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Thanksgiving Day



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Harvest Festivals

Harvest Festivals from Around the World

    African American Harvest Festivals

    Celebrated from December 26 to January 1, Kwanzaa originated from African harvest festivals and its name is derived from the Kiswahili phrase "matunda ya Kwanzaa," which means "the first fruits of the harvest."

    Lighting candles, reciting prayers, singing songs and giving gifts are all rituals that demonstrate the year-round spirit of Kwanzaa.

    The highlight of Kwanzaa is Karamu, the main feast held on December 31. In a room decorated with the symbols of Kwanzaa, families and friends gather and celebrate the closing of Kwanzaa through prayers, songs, dance and toasts to commemorate their ancestors.

    The symbols of Kwanzaa are Mkeka which is a straw mat, Mazao which are fruits and vegetables, Kinara which is a seven-branched candleholder, Muhindi which is an ear of corn, Zawadi which are Gifts, Kikombe Cha Umoja this is the Unity Cup, Mshumaa these are the Seven candles - three red, three green and one black.

    Traditional African dishes - as well as modern African-American variations - are served at Karamu.

    Many celebrate ingredients that traveled with Africans to the Americas - such as yams, sesame seeds, collard greens and hot peppers. As well there are always a wide variety of choices, as everyone takes responsibility for preparing part of the meal.

    Before and after the feast, entertainment is presented, as well as formal welcomes, remembrances, reassessments, re-commitments and rejoicing.


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