Many an African festival is of a religious nature and is usually accompanied by music and dancing. Most of them are held throughout the African continent, while others can be observed in specific parts of Africa only.
Being highly religious, the Harvest Festival is widely celebrated in Africa. The Harvest Festival of Min is held in the month of Shemou and is regarded as the most celebrated African festival during the calendar year. Some African tribes solemnize the Yam Festival, particularly those of West Africa. It is an African festival that takes place in the beginning of August. The Yam Festival, so popular in Nigeria and Ghana, has the name of this common but valued staple, and is conducted with ceremonies and offerings of the first crops to the Gods and ancestors before people distribute them among the rest of the population.
The African festival of Homowo is seen as one of the largest cultural festivals. It is observed by the Ga tribe, whose migration to Ghana in West Africa is closely related to the origin of the festival. After surviving a famine, the Ga tribe held the fest, at which they scoffed at the hunger plaguing them for so long. It was the first celebration of the Homowo Festival. Since then it has developed into the great cultural tradition, the observation of which begins with a Ghanaian procession, in which African and Afro-American people assume roles of kings, queens and the royal family followers of each ethnic group of Ghana.
Other African cultures recognize the "first fruit" ceremony as an African festival, which aims at purifying people before they eat the newly harvested crops.
Because Prophet Muhammad first received revelations of God in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, this month is regarded as the holiest and appropriate for the celebration of the African Festival of Ramadan. During the entire month the Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn until sunset. It is forbidden to eat and drink anything, as well as to have sexual relations. This is a period when people say prayers and read the Koran, try to be kind, helpful and not to quarrel with their friends, family or neighbors. Fasting is an important part of Ramadan, since it teaches Muslims to appreciate the kindness of God and all the good things He has provided for their benefit. People have the possibility to develop the attitude of generosity and self-discipline.
The beginning of a new month after Ramadan is indicated by the new moon, the arrival of which is announced by religious officials in Mecca. Muslims all over the world celebrate the African festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, which is a public holiday. It is the time for praying, elaborate meals and visits with relatives and friends. Children are allowed to put on their best clothes for the happy occasion. People give money to charities to help sick and poor.
Another African Festival is Kwanzaa, celebrated over several days. People exchange gifts to encourage achievement, knowledge and creativity. During the first day of the festival green candles are lit, which symbolize freedom. Families commemorate their leaders and ancestors by drinking from a unity cup. The last evening, referred to as "Karamu" is considered the highlight of the African Festival of Kwanzaa.