At the center of any Kwanzaa celebration is family. Born out of the Black Freedom Movement of the 1960s, Kwanzaa was created to uplift the African-American community and reaffirm a sense of identity and rootedness in African culture. Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, but a cultural celebration. It does not rival, nor is it meant to replace, Christmas or any other religious traditions.
Kwanzaa is held each year over the span of seven days, from December 26 through January 1. By focusing on the core values of Kwanzaa — unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, purpose, creativity and faith — families come together to love one another and build a community spirit.
Creating your family's Kwanzaa centerpiece is a great way to get your children involved in understanding the meaning of Kwanzaa. Each symbol used in the Kwanzaa set is related to one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Explain the significance of each item as you spread out the colorful African tablecloth, the woven Mkeka mat, the Kinara candle holder, the dried corn, fresh fruits, unity cup and other symbols of African heritage. Choose a special time each day to light the Kinara and let the children be involved in this sacred ritual.
Kwanzaa celebrates creativity and what a better way to encourage this value but to do some fun arts and crafts projects with the kids. There are many great Kwanzaa craft ideas available online such as egg carton Kinaras, Wari games, corn cob ornaments, unity cups, handprint wreaths and more.
Gift giving is a wonderful way to share the love during Kwanzaa. Homemade gifts are even more meaningful and your kids will love helping out! Colorful Kwanzaa pasta necklaces, African bead art, Kwanzaa calendars, handmade cards and woven Mkeka mats are just a few ideas to get you started. Be creative and use your imagination!
Whip up some tasty African dishes for your Karamu feast and let the kids share in the fun. Sweet potato pie, peanut soup, beef stew, coconut pie, fruit salad, jollof rice, benne cakes and cornbread are just a few traditional dishes that the children will love to help you cook.
In the words of Kwanzaa founder Dr. Maulana Karenga, "Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African-American people as well as Africans throughout the world." Regardless of what activities you choose to do this Kwanzaa, remember that Kwanzaa was created to reinvigorate pride in African-American heritage, culture and history. More important than any specific activity is taking time to enjoy the ones you love most in this world — your family.
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