What’s the Kwanzaa Candle Holder Called?

Are you curious about the special candleholder used during Kwanzaa celebrations?

Kwanzaa Candle Holder Called

Look no further than the Kinara!

The Kinara is a Swahili word that means “candleholder,” and it plays an important role in the week-long celebration of Kwanzaa.

The Kinara is typically made of kente cloth and holds seven lights, including the black one.

The Kinara, a candleholder, holds seven lights, each representing one of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

It is typically made from wood and decorated with colorful designs or wrapped in kente cloth, showcasing an array of vibrant colors.

In addition to holding the seven candles, the Kinara – an important part of Kwanzaa celebrations – also serves as a focal point for community support and centering.

It often sits on a table alongside other meaningful items such as the unity cup (Kikombe cha Umoja), symbols of African heritage like kente cloth, and articles related to black one’s culture.

As we explore more about Kwanzaa traditions and customs, let’s delve deeper into this important part of the celebration – the Kinara! The Kinara is a special candle holder that holds seven candles, including the unity candle, which is lit on the first day of Kwanzaa.

The Kinara is often decorated with kente cloth, and each candle represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Additionally, there is a cup placed on the Kinara for pouring libations during the celebration.

Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African holiday that celebrates the first fruits of the harvest. It was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, an African American professor of Africana Studies.

One of the central components of Kwanzaa is the Nguzo Saba, which refers to the seven principles that guide this celebration. During this time, people dress in traditional African attire like kente cloth and light the unity candle using a special candle holder.

What are the Nguzo Saba?

The Nguzo Saba are seven principles that represent core values in African culture. Each principle is represented by a candle on the Kinara, a candle holder for Kwanzaa.

The principles are often celebrated by wearing traditional Kente cloth.

  1. Unity (Umoja): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race, as exemplified by the Kwanzaa principles during the Kwanzaa celebration. The Kwanzaa symbols and Matunda ya Kwanza serve as reminders of the importance of unity in our lives.
  2. Self-determination (Kujichagulia): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves with the guidance of Kwanzaa principles. During the Kwanzaa celebration, we use Kwanzaa symbols to remind us of our heritage and light the unity candle to signify the importance of unity in our community.
  3. Collective work and responsibility (Ujima): To build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Cooperative economics (Ujamaa): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Purpose (Nia): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Creativity (Kuumba): 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.
  7. Faith (Imani): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

What do these principles mean?

Each principle represents an important value or belief within African culture.

Unity emphasizes that we are all connected and that we should work together to achieve common goals. Self-determination highlights the importance of defining ourselves on our own terms, rather than allowing others to do it for us.

Collective work and responsibility emphasizes the importance of helping each other out and working together. Cooperative economics encourages us to support businesses within our community, which helps to create economic opportunities for everyone.

Purpose emphasizes the importance of having a shared goal or vision that we can all work towards. Creativity encourages us to use our talents and skills to make positive contributions to our community.

Finally, faith reminds us of the importance of believing in ourselves and in each other, even when times are tough.

How are these principles celebrated during Kwanzaa?

Each day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the seven principles. On each day, families light a candle on their Kinara that corresponds with that principle. They may also discuss how they can apply that principle in their daily lives.

On the sixth day of Kwanzaa (Kuumba), families often exchange handmade gifts or engage in other creative activities together.

Mishumaa Saba and Seven Candles: What Do the Seven Candles Represent?

Mishumaa Saba is a Swahili term that refers to the seven candles held by the Kinara during Kwanzaa celebrations. The Kinara is a candle holder specifically designed for Kwanzaa, and it holds seven candles.

Three of these candles are red, three are green, and one is black. Each candle represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa

The seven principles of Kwanzaa are known as Nguzo Saba in Swahili. These principles represent values that are important to African culture and heritage. The following are the seven principles of Kwanzaa:

  1. Umoja (Unity)
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  5. Nia (Purpose)
  6. Kuumba (Creativity)
  7. Imani (Faith)

Each principle has its own candle on the Kinara, which is lit on each day of Kwanzaa.

The Meaning Behind Each Candle

The first candle on the left side of the Kinara is black, representing Umoja or Unity. This principle emphasizes the importance of unity within families, communities, and among people in general.

The next two candles on either side of the black candle are red, representing Kujichagulia or Self-Determination. This principle encourages individuals to take control over their own lives and make decisions that will benefit themselves and their community.

The next two candles on either side of the red candles are green, representing Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility. This principle emphasizes working together as a community to solve problems and improve conditions for everyone.

The next candle is red, representing Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics. This principle encourages individuals to support and build businesses within their community.

The next candle is green, representing Nia or Purpose. This principle emphasizes setting goals and working towards them with a sense of purpose.

The final candle on the right side of the Kinara is red, representing Kuumba or Creativity. This principle encourages individuals to use their creativity to make positive changes in their community.

The Differences Between Mishumaa Saba and the Menorah Used in Hanukkah

Mishumaa Saba is often compared to the menorah used during Hanukkah celebrations. While both candle holders hold multiple candles, there are some key differences between them.

The menorah has nine branches, while the Kinara has seven. The menorah is used during Hanukkah to celebrate a miracle that occurred when a small amount of oil lasted for eight days in a temple. The Kinara is used during Kwanzaa to celebrate African heritage and culture.

The candles on the menorah are all one color (usually white), while the candles on the Kinara are red, green, and black.

Three Red Candles, Three Green Candles: The Symbolism Behind the Colors

Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration that takes place from December 26th to January 1st. It is a time for African Americans to celebrate their heritage and culture.

Kwanzaa Candle Holder Called

One of the most important symbols of Kwanzaa is the seven candles, each representing one of the principles of Kwanzaa. The three red candles and three green candles have specific meanings behind them.

Red candles represent struggle or bloodshed in African history

The first thing you might notice about the Kwanzaa candles is that there are three red ones. These red candles represent the struggles and hardships that African Americans have faced throughout history.

They also symbolize the bloodshed that has occurred during these struggles.

The first candle, which is lit on December 26th, represents Umoja (Unity). This candle serves as a reminder of our ancestors who fought for our freedom and unity as a people. It also represents the unity we should strive for in our families and communities.

The second candle, which is lit on December 27th, represents Kujichagulia (Self-Determination). This candle represents the determination of African Americans to control their own destiny despite facing adversity.

The third candle, which is lit on December 28th, represents Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility). This candle reminds us that we must work together as a community to solve problems and achieve our goals.

Green candles represent hope for a brighter future

In contrast to the red candles’ symbolism of struggle and hardship, there are three green ones representing hope for a brighter future. These green candles symbolize growth and prosperity for African Americans.

The fourth candle, which is lit on December 29th, represents Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). This candle reminds us of our responsibility to support black-owned businesses and invest in our communities.

The fifth candle, which is lit on December 30th, represents Nia (Purpose). This candle reminds us of the importance of setting goals and working towards them with a sense of purpose.

The sixth candle, which is lit on December 31st, represents Kuumba (Creativity). This candle symbolizes the creativity that African Americans possess and encourages us to use our talents to make positive changes in our communities.

Together they symbolize the struggles and hopes of African people

When you look at all seven candles together, you can see how they represent the struggles and hopes of African Americans. The red candles remind us of where we have come from and what we have overcome.

The green candles remind us of the potential for growth and prosperity in our future.

The Black Candle: Why Are Kwanzaa Candles Blue, Black, and Green?

The Unity Candle

The black candle is the most important candle on the Kinara. It symbolizes the first principle of Kwanzaa, which is unity (Umoja). The color black represents the people of African descent worldwide who come together during Kwanzaa to celebrate their heritage and culture.

During the seven-day celebration, the black candle is lit first followed by lighting one of the other candles each day until all seven are lit. This represents a progression towards greater unity among African people worldwide.

Significance of Blue

Some versions of the Kinara have a blue candle instead of green. Blue represents water (Maji), which is essential for life and sustains it. Water also has spiritual significance in many African cultures as it is associated with cleansing and purification.

In some traditions, blue can also represent peace (Amani), which is an important value for many African communities that have experienced conflict and struggle.

Significance of the Kinara in Kwanzaa Celebrations

The Kinara Serves as a Centerpiece for Kwanzaa Celebrations at Home or Community Gatherings

Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that honors African heritage and culture. It is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st, and it is an important part of the African American community’s cultural identity.

One of the most recognizable symbols of Kwanzaa celebrations is the Kinara, which serves as a centerpiece for home or community gatherings.

During each day of Kwanzaa, a new candle is lit until all seven candles are burning brightly on the seventh day. The lighting ceremony takes place after dinner when everyone gathers around the Kinara to light that day’s candle while discussing its corresponding principle.

Kinara’s Symbolic Representation Reflects Cultural Values Such as Family Heritage & Community Solidarity Through Its Seven Candles

The Kinara’s symbolic representation reflects cultural values such as family heritage and community solidarity through its seven candles. Each candle represents an important aspect of African culture that people should strive to uphold throughout their lives.

For example, Umoja represents unity among family members, friends, and communities. This principle encourages people to work together to achieve common goals rather than compete against each other. Similarly, Imani represents faith in oneself and others’ abilities to overcome challenges.

The Kinara also symbolizes hope for the future. The black candle in the center represents the people, and its lighting on the first day of Kwanzaa signifies the beginning of a new year and a new hope for African Americans.

It Is a Reminder of the African Heritage and Culture

The Kinara is not only a symbol of Kwanzaa celebrations but also serves as a reminder of African heritage and culture. Through its representation, it encourages people to learn about their history, traditions, and values while promoting unity among all people.

Moreover, the Kinara also represents the importance of passing down cultural knowledge from one generation to another. During Kwanzaa celebrations, older family members often share stories and teach younger generations about their ancestors’ struggles and achievements.

History of the Kinara and Its Importance in Kwanzaa Celebrations

Maulana Karenga: The Creator of Kinara

The Kinara is a candle holder used during Kwanzaa celebrations. It was created by Maulana Karenga, an African-American professor, in 1966.

Karenga wanted to establish a central symbol for Kwanzaa celebrations that would represent the roots of African people worldwide. He designed the Kinara to hold seven candles, one for each day of the week-long celebration.

The Significance of the Kinara

The Kinara has deep cultural significance in Kwanzaa celebrations. It represents the African heritage and culture that is celebrated during this holiday season.

The seven candles on the Kinara represent the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).

Each candle has its own meaning and color. The first candle, which is black, represents unity; the second candle, which is red, represents self-determination; and the third candle, which is green, represents collective work and responsibility.

The fourth candle is also red and symbolizes cooperative economics; the fifth candle is yellow and stands for purpose; while the sixth candle, which is green like the third one but with a different shade or hue, symbolizes creativity.

Finally, on December 31st comes Imami or Faith Day when people light up all seven candles together.

Lighting Up Ceremony

During each night of Kwanzaa celebrations, one additional candle on the Kinara will be lit until all seven are burning brightly on December 31st – New Year’s Eve. Each night’s lighting ceremony includes discussions about one of these principles, as well as other rituals and traditions that are unique to Kwanzaa.

The first night of Kwanzaa is dedicated to unity.

On this night, the black candle on the Kinara is lit. The second night is for self-determination, and the red candle next to the black one is lit.

The third night represents collective work and responsibility, so the green candle next to the red one is lit up. On the fourth night, which celebrates cooperative economics, both red candles are lit up.

The fifth night honors purpose with a red candle; creativity is celebrated on the sixth night with a green candle of a different shade or hue from that of the third day’s green candle.

Finally, on December 31st comes Imami or Faith Day when people light up all seven candles together.


In conclusion, the candle holder for Kwanzaa is called a Kinara.

It holds seven candles that represent the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, also known as Nguzo Saba.

The three red candles symbolize self-determination, cooperative economics, and creativity; the three green candles symbolize collective work and responsibility, purpose, and faith; and the black candle in the center represents unity.

Lighting the candles follows a specific order, with one candle lit on each day of Kwanzaa.

Understanding the significance of the Kinara and its history is important in celebrating Kwanzaa properly. By lighting each candle according to its symbolism, we honor our ancestors and reaffirm our commitment to living by these principles throughout the year.

As you celebrate this holiday season with your loved ones, take time to reflect on how you can incorporate these values into your daily life.

Happy Kwanzaa!


Where can I buy a Kinara for Kwanzaa?

You can find Kinaras at many online retailers or specialty stores that sell African-inspired decor. Make sure to purchase from a reputable seller to ensure authenticity.

Can I use regular candles instead of traditional Kwanzaa candles?

A: While it’s possible to use regular candles instead of traditional Kwanzaa candles, it’s recommended to use authentic ones as they hold symbolic meaning for each principle.

How do I light the Kinara during Kwanzaa celebrations?

The lighting order starts with the black candle in the center, followed by alternating red and green candles from left to right. Each candle is lit on its designated day during Kwanzaa.

What are some traditional foods eaten during Kwanzaa celebrations?

Traditional foods include dishes such as sweet potato pie, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and fried chicken.

How long does Kwanzaa last?

Kwanzaa lasts for seven days, from December 26th to January 1st.