Skip to main content

The Village Lou

Celebrating Kwanzaa

Dec 20, 2023 10:35PM ● By Marie Lewis

Kwanzaa holds a special place in our hearts—a cultural tapestry that resonates with the strength, unity, and resilience of our community. This seven-day celebration, rooted in African heritage, serves as a powerful reminder of our shared history and the principles that guide us.

A Brief History of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, emerged as a response to the need for a cultural celebration that honors African heritage and uplifts the Black community. Dr. Karenga, a Black studies professor, sought to provide a space for African Americans to reconnect with their roots, fostering unity and pride.

Held from December 26th to January 1st, Kwanzaa draws inspiration from traditional African harvest festivals, celebrating the seven principles known as the Nguzo Saba. These principles guide us through each day of the celebration, emphasizing values that are essential to our collective growth.

The Seven Days of Kwanzaa

  1. Umoja (Unity): The first day of Kwanzaa invites us to embrace unity within our families and communities. As Black women, we understand the strength that comes from standing together, lifting each other up, and fostering bonds that withstand the test of time.

  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): On the second day, we celebrate self-determination—a principle that speaks to our ability as Black women to define ourselves, set our own paths, and break through barriers. Kwanzaa encourages us to honor the strength within and forge our destinies.

  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): Black women have long been the backbone of our communities, exemplifying collective work and responsibility. This day reminds us of the power we hold when we come together to uplift and support one another.

  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): As entrepreneurs, caregivers, and community builders, Black women understand the importance of cooperative economics. Kwanzaa urges us to build and maintain our businesses, ensuring economic stability within our community.

  5. Nia (Purpose): On the fifth day, we reflect on our purpose as Black women. Kwanzaa encourages us to set goals, aspire to greatness, and contribute meaningfully to our families and communities.

  6. Kuumba (Creativity): Creativity is our birthright as Black women. Kwanzaa calls us to infuse our unique perspectives, talents, and innovations into the world. Our creativity is a force that shapes culture, challenges norms, and leaves a lasting impact.

  7. Imani (Faith): The final day of Kwanzaa, Imani, speaks to the unwavering faith we carry as Black women. Through challenges and triumphs, our faith sustains us, reminding us of the resilience inherited from our ancestors.

How to Celebrate

  1. Kwanzaa Table: Create a beautiful Kwanzaa table with symbolic elements by first placing a mat (Mkeka) down that symbolizes tradition. On top of the mat place the other elements like the kinara (candleholder), seven candles (Mishumaa Saba)representing the principles (Nguzo Saba), crops (Mazao), and a unity cup (Kikombe cha Umoja).

  2. Candle Lighting: black, red, and green candles are lit individually each day, starting with the black candle in the center (representing Umoja) and moving outward. On the second day, the red candle (for the struggle or bloodshed in the past) is lit. The green candle is lit on day three which represents earth and abundance. You will then alternate the candles until the seventh day. Each day reflect on the principle of the day and share stories that embody its essence.

  3. Feast and Fellowship: The eldest opens with the pouring of libations into the unity cup for the ancestors who have paved the way and everyone gathers for a Kwanzaa feast (Karamu), featuring traditional dishes and meaningful conversations. Embrace the spirit of unity and togetherness.

  4. Cultural Reflection: Dive into African art, music, and literature. Use this time to connect with the rich cultural heritage that shapes the principles of Kwanzaa.

  5. Gifts (Zawadi): These adorn the table. These are reserved for children and are usually handmade or contain some cultural value, like a historical book or heritage symbol.

Kwanzaa is a celebration of Black resilience, unity, and purpose.  It's an opportunity to honor our journey, embrace our power, and pass down the legacy to future generations. Happy Kwanzaa!

Here are some Kwanzaa events happening near you:



Visit Our Directory!
Melannaire Market Place