Kwanzaa, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, is a celebration of family, community and culture. It was established as a means to help African Americans reconnect with their African roots and heritage. The secular holiday follows the example of the first harvest celebrations in Africa, but people of all races and ethnic groups are welcome to celebrate them. This seven-day celebration traditionally includes songs and dances, African drums, storytelling and great traditional food. A candle is lit every night to watch it Luzon saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. These include Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) a Imani (faith).
In the United States, Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends on January 1.
Kwanzaa for beginners
To learn more about this holiday, check out the resources available on our sister sites and don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your family and friends!
Celebrating Kwanzaa as a Family: How We Incorporate Kwanzaa into Our Holiday Traditions
Kwanzaa 2020: We wish you the joy that pride and unity bring!
Celebrate Kwanzaa :: What you need to know
Good food is the pinnacle of Kwanzaa and catfish, collars, macaroni and cheese – these are all basic foods that can be seen on the dining table. Each of these 28 recipe ideas is sure to delight the crowd.
For even more recipes, check out this extensive list of traditional Kwanzaa dishes as well as inspiration in cookbooks.
Get your kids in the holiday mood by making Kwanzaa Kinara craft from folded paper. Kinara is a holder for Mishumaa Saba (seven candles). Each candle is one of seven principles, so you and your child can discuss one principle each night.
If Kinara’s craft is too complex, the youngest of the craftsmen could enjoy making this Kwanzaa paper chain.
The best way to immerse your family in the history of Kwanzaa is to read about it. My first Kwanzaa by Karen Katz is a picture book that introduces the basic concepts and symbols of the holiday, and is the perfect place to start.
Other books for young readers include:
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington: In this book, the rabbit’s grandmother is too sick to prepare the last festive meal, so the Li’l rabbit sets out to help and in return embodies the holiday spirit.
Sound Kwanzaa Author: Dimitrea Tokunbo: This book defines the Swahili words that make up the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and contains clear illustrations that your child will fall in love with.
The famous Kwanzaa
Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G. Ford: This book introduces a girl who hopes her brother will arrive home on vacation.