The Kwanzaa Holiday: A Cultural Celebration
Unlike Christmas and Hanukkah, the Kwanzaa holiday is not a religious celebration. Kwanzaa was created as a means of identifying and affirming cultural traditions and principles within the African-American community. Celebrated for seven days, from December 26 through January 1, Kwanzaa is a gathering of friends and family where stories, customs, meals and decorations are shared in honor of a common history and shared future. Use The Kwanzaa Holiday Web Guide to learn about the founding of Kwanzaa and how you can celebrate.
Because Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, there are many opportunities for creating and fostering new Kwanzaa traditions. The following sites explain Kwanzaa history, including why it was created, the basic principles that go into the seven days of celebration and how you can customize your own Kwanzaa celebration.
- 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.
The Official Kwanzaa Web Site
is hosted and maintained by the official creator of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga. The founder explains his reasons for creating the tradition and outlines the true purpose of the celebration. Learn about the seven days that reflect the seven core values of the holiday, and other origins, concepts, symbols and practices of Kwanzaa.
presents an entire section devoted to Kwanzaa, with historical information and explanations of the specific symbols and traditions chosen for this cultural holiday. Watch the video clip for a detailed history of Kwanzaa, featuring images of people celebrating with traditional clothes and decorations.
presents an extensive interview with Dr. Karenga as he discusses the Million Man March, the struggles of black Americans and their leadership, and the creation of Kwanzaa.
This section focuses on the specific traditions associated with participating in, or hosting, a Kwanzaa celebration, including details like the Karamu feast and the Kinara, the Kwanzaa candleholder.
- If you want to learn more about how Kwanzaa is celebrated, read "Celebrating Kwanzaa" by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith.
- The more people involved in your Kwanzaa celebration, the better—this holiday honors community.
Everything About Kwanzaa
provides a quick definition of the holiday, as well as descriptions of the seven principles that govern the celebrations of each day. See how Kwanzaa is celebrated by learning how to decorate the home and choose appropriate gifts. Finally, there is a comprehensive explanation of how to conduct a Kwanzaa feast or Karamu, based on the teachings of Dr. Karenga.
gives an overview of Kwanzaa with information on the cultural symbols used to celebrate the holiday, along with tips for including these symbols in your celebration. Visit the links at the bottom of the page to learn more about the symbols, colors and roots of Kwanzaa, or take a look at “Fundamental Questions About Kwanzaa.”
Food plays a central role in the Kwanzaa celebration, particularly at the Karamu feast during the final stage of the celebration. Eating foods traditional in African and African-American homes is an important part of reinforcing the cultural aspect of this holiday. Below you'll find Kwanzaa food suggestions and recipes, as well as menus for your Kwanzaa celebration.
- Make a bookmark folder for the recipes you find in the sites below. You’ll be able to track all of your favorite dishes, and refer back to them quickly if they’re all in one place.
offers more than 450 Kwanzaa recipes. View mouthwatering photos or browse recipes in categories like “Main Ingredient,” “Course” or “Preparation.”
Food & Wine
details a suggested Kwanzaa menu that includes a roast chicken with mango rum glaze, sweet potato oven fries and dilled string beans.
Bring Kwanzaa symbols into your home while honoring the sixth principle of Kwanzaa: Kuumba, or creativity. During Kwanzaa, individuals are encouraged to minimize commercialism and foster self-sufficiency and imagination. The sites below offer suggestions and instructions for Kwanzaa decorations, crafts, cards and Kwanzaa gifts.
- Before you buy supplies, see what you have at home. A little bit of red and green paint can go a long way in creating decorations out of items you already have.
- Add the craft links you like together with the recipe links you found earlier, and make a bookmark folder called “Kwanzaa.” You’ll be able to find your favorite sites year after year, and add new ones as they come along.
Better Homes and Gardens
offers lots of Kwanzaa decorating ideas. Learn how to make the traditional symbols of Kwanzaa with step-by-step instructions and photos. Some interesting ideas include red, green and black beaded napkin rings, and a woven Mkeka
for the table.
features Kwanzaa decorations and Kwanzaa crafts for kids. Look for articles on decorating a room, a table and the entrance of your home to reflect the meaning of Kwanzaa.
lists several Kwanzaa crafts to make with kids. The items include a Kwanzaa corn pin, a Mancala
game, a Kinara
centerpiece and more. A list of what you’ll need, step-by-step instructions and pictures of each item are included.
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