Let’s Get Ready for Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa is a 7-day African-American & Pan-African holiday that celebrates family, community and culture. Since 1966, Kwanzaa is observed from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Derived from the phrase “matuna ya kwanza” meaning “first fruits” in Swahili, Kwanzaa incorporates 7 principles, called “Nguzo Saba”, and 7 symbols that represent values of African culture.

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red, & green; black for us as a people, red for our struggle, and green for the future hope that comes from our struggle. Centered around traditional African harvest, Kwanzaa is a festive time for feasting and celebrating.

There are a multitude of ways to celebrate Kwanzaa which involves showing respect for ancestors and coming together through song, dance, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and more. We encourage families to be creative and celebrate Kwanzaa in your own way with an intention of practicing the 7 principles of Kwanzaa. 

P4L will be highlighting the importance of the seven principles of Kwanzaa this week, and how you can practice and embody the principles in your families and communities. 

To get ready to celebrate, you’ll first need to identify a special place in your home to place the following 7 symbols of Kwanzaa.

  • Mkeka: Mat (on which everything is placed)
  • Kinara: Candle holder
  • Mishumaa Saba: 7 candles (3 red, 1 black, 3 green)
  • Vibunzi: Ear of corn (one to represent each child)
  • Kikombe Cha Umoja: Unity Cup (used for a collective drink and to pour libations)
  • Zawadi: Gifts (African centered gifts for children)
  • Mazao: Crops (to symbolize harvest)

    Your set-up doesn’t have to be perfect! Use what you have around the house to represent the symbols and have fun with your set-up.

Here are some ways to celebrate Kwanzaa daily: 

  • Greeting:  Ask “Habari Gani?” which is Swahili for “what’s the good news” to which others respond with the principle of the day (i.e. Umoja “Unity”)
  • Candle Lighting: The black candle is lit on the first day and the remaining candles are lit from left to right on the following days. This order is to indicate that the people come first, then the struggle, then hope after struggle.
  • Reflect: Each family member shares how they will practice the Kwanzaa principle.
  • Activity: Do a family activity to practice the principle of the day. Our amazing staff will be sharing interactive and educational activities every day during Kwanzaa for you to be inspired and try out as a family. 

We can’t wait to celebrate Kwanzaa as a virtual community! Share with us your Kwanzaa set-ups, and photos from the upcoming activities!