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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Smith

How to Celebrate Unity, Heritage, and Hope This Kwanzaa

As the year draws to a close and the holiday season approaches, we’re all filled with anticipation and excitement. There are so many amazing ways we can celebrate during this time of the year. However, Kwanzaa is one holiday that doesn’t get nearly enough attention and coverage!

This vibrant and culturally significant festival is something we should all be aware of. So, join me on this journey as we explore the origins, traditions, and delightful ways to celebrate Kwanzaa with our loved ones in 2023!

What is Kwanzaa?

Kwanzaa, which means first fruits in Swahili, is a seven-day celebration that honors African heritage and culture. This annual celebration was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a prominent African American scholar and activist. He first founded Kwanzaa in 1966 as a way to foster unity and empower the African American community.

Most people celebrate Kwanzaa for a full week. The celebration starts on December 26th and concludes on January 1st. During this time, families eat festive foods, decorate their homes, and participate in other festive activities that I will talk about later on in the post.

What’s really special about this holiday, though, is that each day represents one of seven principles or Nguzo Saba. These principles guide the whole celebration and teach us how to spread African values and culture!

How Can We Celebrate Kwanzaa?

There are tons of ways you can celebrate Kwanzaa this year, but I’ll be going over the most popular and simple ways you can do this below. These celebration tips will help your whole family learn the meaning of this holiday, this way you can embrace this special week-long celebration!

Showcase the Symbols of Kwanzaa in Your Home

The easiest way to celebrate Kwanzaa is by putting up some decorations. You can decorate your home with vibrant colors like red, green, and black. You can also put up traditional African prints, and symbols such as the Kinara candle holder, and the Mkeka, which is a decorative mat.

These symbols serve as visual reminders of the values and principles Kwanzaa embodies. They will make your home look perfect during this special week! You can get Kwanzaa decorations and supplies pretty easily. Amazon, Etsy, and other major stores sell amazing products for Kwanzaa!

Light the Kinara

Lighting a Kinara is a must during this festival. During Kwanzaa, families gather to light the Kinara's candles each night. Each candle represents a different value and one is lit per day. The black candle represents unity and is lit first. The next set of candles to light is the three red candles which symbolize self-determination, collective work and responsibility, and cooperative economics.

Finally, the three green candles represent purpose, creativity, and faith. Lighting the candles together provides an opportunity to reflect on each principle. This is a time to share meaningful discussions and talk with your family!

Create Your Own Karamu Feast

The next way you can celebrate Kwanzaa is with a Karamu feast. You can have a Kwanzaa party any day of the week! On December 31st, during the sixth day of Kwanzaa, families, and friends come together to enjoy the Karamu feast.

Your loved ones should come together to celebrate unity, community, and the shared values of Kwanzaa. Traditional African dishes like Jollof rice, collard greens, and sweet potato pie can be prepared and shared, along with heartfelt conversations and storytelling!

Go to Local Kwanzaa Events

Finally, I suggest looking for local events to attend with your kids. Not every community will have a Kwanzaa event, but if there is one this is a great way to connect with people in your local area and get your kids involved in the excitement of Kwanzaa.

You can go to an event on the sixth day of Kwanzaa and celebrate creativity by seeing artist exhibits, public readings, music, dancing, booths, and other festive activities hosted by your town or city!

Kwanzaa Activities for Kids

While Kwanzaa can be serious at times, it’s also a time for your kids to have fun and learn more about their culture and heritage! I’ll be going over a few activities for your kids to try this Kwanzaa to get them in the holiday spirit.

1. Craft African-inspired Decorations

Get your children to celebrate the holidays by crafting their own Kwanzaa decorations. They can make paper kinaras or woven placemats. Some crafts will be harder than others, but these activities teach kids about the holiday's significance while also encouraging them to be creative and imaginative.

2. Explore African Folktales

Storytelling plays a central role in Kwanzaa. So, I suggest introducing children to African folktales, like Anansi the Spider or Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears. These stories are entertaining but they also impart valuable life lessons and help them better understand African culture.

3. Make Unity Cups

Lastly, teach your kids about the importance of unity by creating unity cups together! Decorate simple cups or mugs with symbols and colors representing Kwanzaa. You want to encourage kids to share their aspirations and commitments towards unity and togetherness with these arts and crafts.

Final Thoughts on Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a beautiful celebration that honors African heritage and instills important values in each generation. By embracing the traditions of this holiday, we can cultivate a deeper appreciation for diversity, unity, family, and community!

I went over a few ways you can celebrate Kwanzaa this year, which include lighting the Kinara, sharing the Karamu feast, and engaging in fun activities with your kids. There are still plenty of other ways you can celebrate this year.

Really, Kwanzaa provides an opportunity to celebrate our shared humanity and strive for a brighter future. So, let’s embrace Kwanzaa in 2023 with open hearts, and spread its message of unity, heritage, and hope throughout our communities. If you have your own Kwanzaa stories or traditions please feel free to share them below in the comments. I would love to hear from you!

136 views7 comments



Great post!



Great post, thank you for it! I learned some things and it certainly slunds Inviting and wonderful!



Amazing post! I haven't heard about Kwanzaa but I do now. Thanks for sharing!



Thanks for sharing the enlightening historical content about Kwanza. - Kevin Foodie



I appreciate you sharing about this. - Jojo Reyes

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