During the last week of December, gather friends and family to enjoy traditional cultural dishes and passed-down stories of the rich history of Kwanzaa. Each night focuses on one of the central principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
These striking place cards are a colorful way for guests to find their seats. Since the name "Kwanzaa" is derived from a Swahili phrase meaning "first fruits," it's only fitting to place a ripe, juicy orange at each guest's setting. Write names with white chalk on pieces of black card stock, then fasten to the orange using a wire pin.
The Kinara Goes Modern
On each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa, tradition calls for lighting one candle in a colorful candleholder, called a kinara. Each of the candles represents one of the key principles at the center of the holiday, presenting an opportunity to share these values as, one-by-one, the candles are lit. The Kinara can be made from a variety of materials; this one is crafted from plywood and glass jars and is simple enough to let the kids help create it.
A Colorful Kwanzaa
Dress your dining room with the colors of Kwanzaa: red, green and black. Adorn a mantle with a simple garland that conveys the traditional holiday greeting, "Joyous Kwanzaa!" To make your own, cut triangles from colored card stock and draw each letter in black. Attach to ribbon by hot-glueing card stock to bottom half of ribbon, then fold ribbon over and secure with glue.
The Unity Cup
The unity cup is traditionally passed around the table as a way for each guest to honor their ancestors, as well as the communal history of African-American culture. During the celebration, each person at the table takes a sip from the cup before passing it. This cup is decorated with colorful African-inspired beads, and makes a festive addition to the table display.
The Kwanzaa holiday provides a great opportunity to gather with family and friends to prepare and enjoy delicious food. Many Kwanzaa menus include aspects of favorite African-American dishes, as well as African and Caribbean recipes. On December 31, as the last candle on the Kinara is lit, families host a feast, called Karamu, and the table overflows with traditional favorites.
The concept of Kwanzaa is closely tied to the harvest, and is a time when loved ones come together to give thanks for the bounty of their labors. A basket of warm bread represents the harvest feast, and is a delicious accompaniment to the rest of the menu.
A Bountiful Buffet
Classic Southern menu items like sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas and collard greens are great served next to Caribbean-inspired dishes like jerk chicken, black beans and rice. Mix and match to please all tastes!
A beautiful feature of Kwanzaa is that it brings together those of all faiths in celebration of the common ground of African heritage. This year, join millions of Africans and African-Americans as they celebrate a rich cultural heritage all over the globe.