The African-American and Pan-African holiday of Kwanzaa, which celebrates the reaffirmation of family, community, and culture, was founded in 1996. The name "Kwanzaa" is from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanaza, meaning "first fruits'' and Kwanzaa's origins are rooted in celebrations of the harvest that have been practiced by African peoples since the time of Ancient Egypt and Nubia.

When designing this room for a Kwanzaa gathering, we wanted to emphasize the warm feeling of celebrating one's community. It seemed appropriate to beautify this home's living-room fireplace, the heart of the house. The rustic, brick fireplace signifies warmth and lends itself to displaying traditional Kwanzaa elements, such as a cornucopia, a candleholder, and a Unity Cup. The colors of Kwanzaa-red, black, and green-flow beautifully against the red stone background.

Unity Cup
This wooden goblet, called the Kikombe cha umoja, symbolizes the principle of unity. It is placed front and center on a mat called aMkeka, which represents the foundation of African cultural history.

Harvest hearth
Putting a new spin on fireplace decorations, colorful African favris and red and green ribbons were incorporated into the design.

First fruit
These fruits and vegetables represent the bounty of the harvest. Glass vegetables ornaments were incorporated with the real ones, to add glitter to the display.

Ornamental accent
Picking up two of the traditional colors of Kwanzaa, this holiday ball nestles I the artificial pine garland and an African-textile-patterned ribbon.

The Kwanzaa candleholder is known as a Kinara. A symbol of ancestral Africa, it holds seven candles that stand for the seven principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work, and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Red represents the struggle for freedom, black represents the people, and green represents both harvest and hope for the future.