By Augostina Mallous
Kwanzaa was created in 1966 for the purpose of bringing African Americans together as a community. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. The creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga, combined several harvest celebrations to form the basis of Kwanzaa, and the whole meaning is centered around community and togetherness. Families celebrate Kwanzaa in their own ways, but often include similar activities involving songs, dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a very large traditional meal. Scroll through our curated Kwanzaa celebrations to honor this beautiful holiday with your family!
Attend Virtual Celebrations
The mission of Kwanzaa Fest Brooklyn is to unite and bring people together in love and fellowship. This year, they will be celebrating virtually on a Zoom conference call from Dec. 26-30. There will be panel discussions relating to topics like “The State of the Black Family” and “The Role of Creativity in Liberation,” as well as vendors and a DJ! This is a great opportunity for the kids to learn about Black culture and the true meaning of Kwanzaa.
Abdel R. Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre will be featured in this online experience! Since 2006, the Apollo Theater has celebrated Kwanzaa with culture, tradition, ritual and community in New York and around the country. Join them on December 27th at 7 pm and “exhale.” Register online and donate!
Discover the power of dance and performing arts in the Kwanzaa 2020 celebration on Dec.20 and 6 pm! It is presented by Kofago Dance Ensemble, which exists at the nexus of African dance traditions and the Black experience in America. These upbeat performances will have the whole family on their feet!
Since 2009, Parkchester has “Created Unity in the Community” with its Kwanzaa celebrations. This year, the program will celebrate the first principle of Unity, which is Umoja: “To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.” The celebration will be parallel to African culture and traditions through the practice of the Nguzo Saba, seven principles, artistic performers, and vendors to reaffirm humanitarian values and dignity to the community. Join them on Dec. 26 from 4-8 pm on Zoom or Youtube and Facebook Live!
Learn the Culture
Every week is a new globe-spanning musical adventure with a dance-along, sing-along, play-along program that can spark a lifelong interest in music and develop social cognitive and physical skills! Classes are for ages as young as three months old to five years old, with parental attendance, of course. Both online and in-person options are available!
Interactive programs taking place during each Play Session offer the opportunity to learn African dance, play the djembe drum, hear folktales of the African diaspora, create Zawadi gifts for family and friends, and explore Kwanzaa’s seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, faith, and creativity. Join in on Dec. 26 or 27 to be a part of all of the fun!
Cook Festive Dishes
This creamy side dish is sure to be a hit for the entire family! You can even make it dairy-free by using almond milk. Visit the link for ingredient and recipe info!
Kids who are normally turned off by anything green may want to change their minds about this dish! This recipe can be altered to your family’s liking and may soon become a new favorite.
These fluffy spoon breads offer a hint of kick, and make the perfect side dish or left-over breakfast snack!
Take a look at these Kwanzaa recipes for more delish dishes!
Decorate for Kwanzaa
Lighting the kinara is one of Kwanzaa’s most symbolic rituals. Gather the kids to help create this modern version that adds a colorful centerpiece to the Kwanzaa table with all of those delicious dishes!
Incorporate a powerful symbol of Kwanzaa into your home holiday decorations with these corn husk vases! Corn traditionally pays tribute to the circle of life in Kwanzaa celebrations, and these vases are a unique way to pass along this custom.
Pass along a special tradition by involving young and old in crafting a custom unity cup! Visit the link for more info!
Cooperative economics are a crucial part of Kwanzaa, and supporting Black-owned businesses is a great way to honor that custom. These businesses range from restaurants to hand-made gifts and decor! There is no doubt that you’ll find something for everyone in the family.