Weekly Feature

kwanzaa candles, kwanzaa, celebrating kwanzaa

6 Essential Kwanzaa Sites

December 28, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
Kwanzaa was created as a means of identifying and affirming cultural traditions and principles within the African-American community. Friends and family gather and share stories, customs and meals in honor of a common history. Use these Web sites to learn about the founding of Kwanzaa and how you can celebrate the holiday.

Discover the History of Kwanzaa

Founded in 1966, Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Kwanzaa means “first fruits” in Swahili, the most widely spoken African language. Its name is meant to draw together all African people under the common celebration of the harvest.

Learn more about the holiday at the Official Kwanzaa Web Site, maintained by the creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Dr. Karenga explains his reasons for creating the tradition and outlines the true purpose of the celebration. You’ll learn about the seven days that reflect the seven core values of the holiday, and other origins, concepts, symbols and practices of Kwanzaa.
Because Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, there are many opportunities for creating and fostering new Kwanzaa traditions. History.com presents an entire section devoted to Kwanzaa, with historical information and explanations of the specific symbols (Mazao, Mkeka, Vibunzi, Mishumaa, Kinara, Kikombe and Zawadi) and principles (Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith) chosen for this cultural holiday.

The site brings the history of Kwanzaa to life with plenty of images and a video showing a Kwanzaa celebration in action, featuring people observing the holiday with traditional clothes and decorations.

Explore Kwanzaa Traditions

Kwanzaa is based on seven guiding principles, or Nguzo Saba, that govern the celebrations of each day. Everything About Kwanzaa provides a quick definition of the holiday and explains how to conduct the Karamu, or Kwanzaa feast, how to decorate the home and how to choose appropriate gifts, all based on the teachings of Dr. Karenga.

Whether you’re participating in or hosting a Kwanzaa celebration, Everything About Kwanzaa can help you take care of all the details. And remember: the more people you can involve in your Kwanzaa celebration, the better, because this holiday honors community.

Prepare a Delicious Kwanzaa Meal

Food plays an essential role in the Kwanzaa celebration, particularly at the Karamu feast during the final stage of the celebration. Eating foods traditionally served in African and African-American homes is an important part of reinforcing the cultural aspect of this holiday.

Food.com offers more than 500 recipes for Kwanzaa, arranged in such categories as “African” and “Main Dish.” View mouthwatering photos or browse recipes for suggestions like Caribbean Coconut Curry Sauce, Pumpkin Peanut Soup, Peanut Brittle, Easy African Sweet Potato Patties and more. There are also plenty of nut-free and vegetarian dishes to choose from.

Create a Festive Kwanzaa Atmosphere

It’s easy to honor the sixth principle of Kwanzaa—Kuumba, or creativity—with the help of eHow: the site is loaded with decorating tips and craft ideas that incorporate the symbols of Kwanzaa.

During Kwanzaa, individuals are encouraged to minimize commercialism and foster self-sufficiency and imagination. Before you buy any new materials, check and see what's available at home. A little bit of red and green paint can go a long way in creating decorations out of items you already have. You can also sew old fabrics together in creative ways to make Kwanzaa mats or tablecloths.
And don’t miss Kaboose for kid-friendly Kwanzaa craft ideas. The items include a Kwanzaa corn pin, a Mancala game, a Kinara centerpiece, a Unity cup, a Kwanzaa gift can and more. Each craft idea is presented with a photo, a list of what you’ll need, step-by-step instructions and user ratings.

Find ideas you really like? Make an online bookmark folder for your favorite decoration and craft links. That way, you’ll be able to locate your favorite sites year after year, and add new ones as they come along.

Most Recent Features