Kwanzaa, like all holidays, has symbols which emphasize its meaning and reinforce the values of the holiday. Thus, Kwanzaa has 7 basic symbols and two supplemental ones. The Kwanzaa symbols are displayed on what is called the “Kwanzaa Set”. The Kwanzaa symbols are: crops, a mat, candle holder, ear of corn, unity cup, seven candles, and gifts. The two supplemental symbols are the flag (representing Africans American as a people- black, red and green) and the Seven Principles Poster (the seven principles of Kwanzaa). The symbols provide a learning opportunity each day of Kwanzaa. Take for example the symbol of the flag. The colors and order of the flag is instructive and significant. The color black is symbolic of black people; the color red is symbolic of struggle or effort and work; and the color green is symbolic of the future and hope that comes from the effort and work. In the context of school, the lesson is that students who appreciate learning, respect each other and who, put forth an earnest effort at studying will excel academically and achieve in life.
The symbols can also be used for learning opportunities in the school and at home; for example, the ear of corn represents children. During Kwanzaa, the family places an ear of corn on the Kwanzaa mat for each of their children. Even couples without children place at least one ear of corn on the mat. This is because in the African culture and African American traditional southern culture children belong to the community or extended family. Hence, this culture value is a reinforcement of the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.” There is a learning opportunity for each of the Kwanzaa symbols.