You, Too, Can Celebrate Kwanzaa

After a busy holiday season, celebrating Kwanzaa can feel so daunting that many of us opt out. But there's no need to—celebrating can be easy.

Horizontal medium portrait of modern African American man, woman and their daughter spending time at home setting table for Kwanzaa festive dinner

Clique Images/Stocksy

After weeks of navigating the holiday hustle and bustle, the time has come when we can all finally take a breather and coast into the new year. Or can we? Not quite yet if you celebrate Kwanzaa. While the holiday was created with Black Americans in mind, and modeled after African traditions from the “first fruits” celebrations of ancient Egypt to West Africa’s New Yam Festival, Kwanzaa invites people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds to partake in the festivities. Millions of families recognize Kwanzaa each year, however, hosting yet another tradition during the holidays can often feel so daunting that many of us don’t partake in it. 

While Kwanzaa is known for its many rituals through the seven-day celebration, it can also feel joyous and manageable with the right preparation. Ready to welcome Kwanzaa into your home for the holidays? Here are 7 easy but impactful ways to honor its practices without wearing yourself out.

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Look Around the House for Supplies

After playing Santa Claus and putting presents under the Christmas tree, the last thing you want to do is spend more money during the holidays. Fortunately, the seven symbols needed for Kwanzaa are low-budget and can be found around your house or at a local store, and they can be used year after year for your Kwanzaa celebration.

02 of 07

Lean Into the Importance of Kwanzaa Colors

It is important to incorporate Kwanzaa’s Pan-African colors, representing the people (black), our struggle (red), and the future (green). Discuss the colors of Kwanzaa and their representation while creating art together as a family. You can also explore the internet for Kwanzaa coloring pages or purchase a coloring book from a Black-owned business or creator, recognizing the principle Ujamaa or cooperative economics in the Black community.

03 of 07

Greetings During Kwanzaa

Learning a new language can be fun, and Swahili is the beautiful language of Kwanzaa. In addition to the principles and symbols being named in Swahili, you can also greet others in Swahili during Kwanzaa by saying Habari Gani?—What’s Happening? or Heri za Kwanzaa!—Happy Kwanzaa!

04 of 07

Look for Local Kwanzaa Celebrations

The idea of hosting your own Kwanzaa party might be exhausting after all of the Christmas celebrations, so look no further than your city for a local Kwanzaa celebration. If leaving the house isn't possible, tune in to Kwanzaa celebrations online, like P.A.C.E’s Virtual Kwanzaa Celebration, or watch a show about the holiday's history.

05 of 07

Try a New African Recipe

Kwanzaa is all about learning and embracing African cultures, and a great place to connect with your roots is through food. Pick a new recipe from an African country and make the dish together as a family. The flavorful dishes will surely delight your palate and bring the spirit of Kwanzaa to your community.

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Make a Homemade Gift

Christmastime can be synonymous with commercialized gifts and toys but Kwanzaa prioritizes the beauty of creativity and homemade gift-giving. Pull out the construction paper, crayons, and paint to make a piece of art for a loved one.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

During Kwanzaa, participants are encouraged to reflect on and remember our ancestors and their sacrifices while focusing on collective efforts that will strengthen our future. This is a great time to gather the family around and tell tales about your family’s history. Share stories about your elders or loved ones who have passed but left a legacy in their time.  Then bring the conversation to the present time and empower your children to think about their contribution to their own Black community. 

Kwanzaa is ultimately about remembering one’s ancestorial history while reflecting and working together towards a better future for Black communities. If you decide to celebrate Kwanzaa this year, focus on the overarching lessons of unity, community, and purpose. The seven principles are an essential guide for celebrating Kwanzaa but as a family, you can incorporate your traditions to make Kwanzaa special for you and your family.

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