As many people conclude their Christmas and Hannakuah celebrations this week, beginning on Monday, December 26th, the seven-day holiday of Kwanzaa officially begins. A relatively newer holiday, it was created in 1966 by activist Dr. Maulana Karenga as a celebration of African-American heritage and an opportunity to promote shared cultural unity among the Black community.

Over the years, the observance of Kwanzaa has become more widely recognized outside of the immediate familial home, with communities, colleges, and schools incorporating its teachings into their programming. It’s rich in tradition and symbolism – and a beautiful celebration of not only “first fruits” (from which its name is derived), but more significantly, it holds an important role for the global African diaspora. “It brings together the Black community, not on the basis of their religious faith, but a shared cultural heritage.”  

While many homes place a great deal of importance on Kwanzaa, many still allow it to be overshadowed by the more commercialized Christmas holiday. Each has its place, of course, but space must be made to incorporate the traditions and teachings of Kwanzaa. It keeps us connected in a meaningful and tangible way, not only with each other but with our ancestors and those who will come after us. 


The Seven Kwanzaa Principles:

  • Day 1: Umoja (unity); togetherness, community
  • Day 2: Kujichagulia (self-determination), the wherewithal to rise above
  • Day 3: Ujima (group responsibility); coming together to solve problems together
  • Day 4: Ujamaa (cooperative trade), pursuing economic independence
  • Day 5: Nia (intention); finding your purpose in this life
  • Day 6: Kuumba (creativity); what do we contribute to improving the world? 
  • Day 7: Imani (faith); faith in each other, our beliefs, and ourselves

If you are still learning and exploring ways to celebrate Kwanzaa, may we recommend this free guide as a resource: It includes the written word, recipes, songs, reflective thoughts, and activities for children to guide you through each of these seven days.


How do you plan to celebrate Kwanzaa this year? Please share your traditions and celebrations in the comments below!