Celebrating Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a secular festival that observes and celebrates the cultural heritage and traditional values of African Americans (and Africans of the diaspora. ) Kwanzaa takes place between December 26 and January 1 and is open for anyone to celebrate it. It is often not a substitute for Christmas, but is celebrated in addition to the religious holidays.

The seven principles of Kwaanza are:

1. Umoja: Unity – To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

2. Kujichagulia: Self-Determination – To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

3. Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility – To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and solve them together.

4. Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics – To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

5. Nia: Purpose – To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

6. Kuumba: Creativity – To always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

7. Imani: Faith – To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Here is a link from Kiddle Kids Encyclopedia to learn more about the holiday: https://kids.kiddle.co/Kwanzaa

Here is a 3 minute video from Sesame Street with a little girl talking about the celebration:

And a video from Inside Edition describing the history and customs of the holiday:


Kwaanza Crafts:

You can craft 7 paper tube candles for the Kinara. PBS has instructions here:


You can also craft a nice easy and colorful Kinara made from wooden popsicle sticks and clothespins like this one from Nick.jr.

Make a woven placemat using red, green and black paper. Red represents the struggles of the African ancestors and the blood they shed. Black is used in Kwanzaa to represent the color of the African race. Green evokes both the fertile land of Africa and the concept of hope. Follow the instructions here: https://bethebestnanny.com/2018/12/27/kwanzaa-placemat/ 

You can laminate it later so it lasts longer.


This recipe looks delicious and a vegetarian version can be made by leaving out the bacon or substituting fake-bacon. You can get okra usually at Asian or Turkish food shops: https://3boysandadog.com/okra-and-corn-kinara-for-kwanzaa/

Here is a beautiful vegan sweet potato, black eyed pea (also available in cans at the Asian food markets) and peanut stew: https://soulfulvegan.com/first-fruits-of-the-harvest/

Feature Image Credit: Sue Barr /Getty Image

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s