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Corn and children are essential parts of Kwanzaa, the seven-day celebration of African culture. Observed December 26 through January 1, Kwanzaa, which means "first fruits of the harvest" in Kiswahili, is meant to honor African heritage as well as present day life in America.

During Kwanzaa, families use various holiday decorations to symbolize the different aspects of their heritage. These items are placed on top of a straw mat called a "Mkeka." An ear of corn is placed on the Mkeka for each child in the household. Each ear of corn celebrates fertility and each child's potential in the world.

Other items placed on the Mkeka include fruits and vegetables (representing the harvest), a seven-branched candelabra (representing a stalk of corn from which the family grew), the Unity Cup (honoring ancestors) and seven candles (representing the seven principles of Kwanzaa).

To learn more about Kwanzaa, click here.


Corn Child (animated) by Camilla Eriksson
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