For celebrating creativity at Kwanzaa we are sharing ideas for adding an African theme to the table. The principle is to always do as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. What a lovely ideal.
Kwanzaa is an annual celebration observed by many African Americans from December 26th to January 1st. Created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a professor of African studies, Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that honors African heritage and emphasizes community, unity, and reflection. It was designed as an alternative to mainstream American holidays, providing African Americans with an opportunity to connect with their roots and celebrate their unique history and traditions.
During Kwanzaa, families and communities come together to celebrate in various ways. The holiday is marked by the lighting of the Kinara, a candle holder with seven candles representing the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). Each day, one candle is lit, and individuals reflect on the principle associated with that day. Other celebrations may include music, dance, storytelling, poetry, and African art exhibitions, all aimed at promoting African culture and heritage.
Food plays an important role in Kwanzaa celebrations, with traditional African dishes being prepared and shared among family and friends. Some staple foods during Kwanzaa include soul food dishes like collard greens, black-eyed peas, heirloom beans, cornbread, yams, and tea cakes. These foods hold cultural significance as they represent both historical traditions and the agricultural bounty of Africa. Other popular dishes may include Jollof rice, plantains, Akara (bean cakes), and groundnut stew. The emphasis on communal feasting during Kwanzaa further underscores the importance of unity and togetherness in African American communities.
Photos by Tony Fitzgerald Photography of Santa Cruz, California.