Well, the holiday season is moving fast and there are only a few days until Christmas, but for hundreds of black and brown people, the celebration continues the day after Christmas. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that celebrates African culture and its importance in the African-American community. It is celebrated from December 26th to January 1st. Seven core principles are celebrated during this time: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. These principles are essential in helping to promote African culture and unify African-Americans. Kwanzaa is also a time to reflect on the history of African-Americans, honor ancestors, and recognize the struggles of the African diaspora. It is a time for African-Americans to come together to celebrate their culture, traditions, and community. Kwanzaa is a time for African-Americans to find strength, embrace their identity, and work together to build a better future.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are
The seven core principles of Kwanzaa are Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith). These seven principles serve as a guide for African-Americans to celebrate their African heritage and culture and promote unity and self-improvement.
A few years back I wrote a blog about how we celebrated a Montessori Inspired Kwanzaa. You can read about our Montessori-Inspired Kwanzaa here. I have been meaning to update and write about how celebrating Kwanzaa is an ongoing tradition in our home. My son looks forward to celebrating each year and takes part in lightening the candle and leading the celebration. For us celebrating Kwanzaa is a way of life its not just a week, we practice the principles all year. Kwanzaa is not political or religious and it is not something that is celebrated in Africa. Kwanzaa is mostly celebrated in the United States but it was inspired by the South African region harvest celebration of the “first fruits”. I highly recommend that you do your research beforehand and check out the Official Kwanzaa Website.
I pull our Kwanzaa materials out right after Thanksgiving and I set up our area, you can check out our Kwanzaa unboxing on our Little Learner and Mom Instagram. Setting up early allows me to think about our intentions for the upcoming year and it gives us all a full month to think about these intentions. My son spends his time journaling about each principle and reflecting on how he demonstrated those principles during the year. I personally reflect on Umoja ( Unity) and Nia (Purpose) during the month of December.
Kwanzaa doesn’t require a lot of prep as a matter of fact our first kinara was made out of toilet paper rolls and tissue paper, a handmade Mkeka, and one of my son’s sippy cups. The homemade materials were the best because they were made with the principle of Kuumba in mind. We treasured those materials and set them out continuously each year until they fell apart. For our next Kinara we also made ourselves some wooden candle holders. Our current Kwanzaa set is from Kwanzaa Kit. Over the years we have made changes and built off of the previous year. I plan our meal plan for the week ahead of time, I try to include a special dish or dessert each day on the 6th day we have a grand meal that includes recipes from both my husband and my mother. I also have my son pick a recipe he wants to prepare.
This year for Kwanzaa we have lined up:
- Learn and play Senet
- Creating Family Affirmations
- Family Vision Board
- Creating Kwanzaa Bracelets
- Completing our 2023 Goals
- Filling out our Family Journal for January
- Kamali Academy Kwanzaa Unit Study
- Watching Holiday Heritage (The first movie on Hallmark celebrating Kwanzaa)
- Cooking a complete meal from Ethiopia and Morrocco (Eat to Explore Box save $10)
Resources for Kwanzaa
There are several picture books about Kwanzaa, you can find our favorites in our Amazon store. I have also included some resources for games, cookbooks, kinara sets, and decorations. It is not too late to grab some candles (Mishumaa Saba) from your local craft store and you can just use a candle holder and just light your candles. The Kamali Academy Kwanzaa Unit Study has some wonderful printable principles cards you can print on cardstock and laminate. You can do like we did and just make your material, you will treasure these over the years. I have created a Kwanzaa Pinterest board full of ideas you can look over. Here are a few of my favorite Teacher pay Teacher Resources:
- Kwanzaa Differentiated Reading and Writing Activities
- Kwanzaa- A Critical Thinking Guide for Parents, Kids & Teens
- Kwanzaa Activities Worksheets and Craftivity
- Kwanzaa Printable Pack
The most important thing about Kwanzaa is making the celebration your own there is no right or wrong way to celebrate. Take baby steps at first and enjoy the week learning and enjoying your family. Kwanzaa is an affirmation of African American people’s connection to their African roots and their history, and it is a time to reflect on the importance of self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Kwanzaa is a time of self-reflection and celebration of African American culture and heritage, and it is a reminder of the importance of community and family.
Be sure to follow us on our Little Learner and Mom Instagram as we celebrate!
Until the Next Time,
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