Kwanzaa Activities & Celebrations


Kwanzaa, for its celebration needs following items :  

  • Kinara (candle holder); 
  • Mkeka (placemat preferably made of straw);
  • Mazao (crops, i.e., fruits and vegetables);
  • Vibunzi/Muhindi (ears of corn to reflect the number of children in the household); 
  • Kikombe cha umoja (communal unity cup);
  • Mishumaa saba (seven candles, one black, three red, and three green); and 
  • Zawadi (gifts that are enriching).

The Kinara is the seven candle holder to be a sign of the seven principles which are the basis of Kwanzaa. If one doesn’t has a Kinara and don't identify where to get it, it is recommended to make one. The Mkeka (place mat) made up of cloth makes an adequate substitute. If cloth is used, one with an African print is ideal. The other symbols can easily be available and should not produce problems. All seven symbols are artistically placed on top of the place mat, i.e., the symbols should be pleasantly arranged as they shape the Kwanzaa focus.


The Kinara along with the other signs of Kwanzaa should overlook the area, which should be given an African ornamentation. This is easily attainable and shouldn't result in too much expenditure. The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green. This should be kept in mind when beautifying the home. Black, red and green decorations, balloons, fabric, flowers, and African prints can be hung discerningly around the room. Unique arts and statues may be put on display as well.


 Kuumba (creativeness) is very much encouraged. Not only is Kuumba one of the seven principles, it also brings a sagacity of individual fulfillment and puts one squarely into the spirit of Kwanzaa.  For that reason, those signs that can be made should not be bought. The giving of gifts during Kwanzaa should be within the means and of a learning or creative nature. Gifts are more often than not exchanged between parents and children and conventionally given on January 1st, the last day of Kwanzaa. Nevertheless, gift giving may occur at any time throughout Kwanzaa.


 By tradition Kwanzaa Karumu is held on December 31st.  It is a very singular event as it is the one Kwanzaa event that fastens the celebrators to their African ancestry.  The Karamu is a public and joint endeavor.  Ceremonials and artistic ideas are extremely supported.  It is significant to beautify the place where the Karamu will be organized, (e.g., home, society center, cathedral) in an African pattern that make use of black, red, and green color scheme.  A big Kwanzaa surroundings should take over the room where the karamu will take place.  A huge Mkeka should be placed in the middle of the ground where the foodstuff should be placed artistically and should be made to easy to get to all for self-service.  Earlier to and for the duration of the feast, an educational and enjoyable program should be presented.  Conventionally, the program is a mix up of welcoming, remembering, reconsideration, recommitment and elation, finished by a farewell account and a call for better harmony.

To organize the feast, set a table with the signs of Kwanzaa. Place mkeka (mat), the kinara (candleholder) with the mishumaa saba (candles) in this order: single black candle in the center, three green candles on the left, and three red candles on the right. Add muhindi (at least one ear of corn or one ear of corn per child in the community), the kikombe cha umoja (unity cup or chalice), and zwadi (gifts, usually homemade), a little bendera (flag), and a picture of nguzo sabe (it may be placed on a wall at the back of the table).

Families have the same opinion in advance which foods should be prepared and bring. As much as achievable, foods representative of Africa should be used. Print recipes on index cards and put it by every food item. Dishes might include: jallof (a cuisine of western African consisting of rice, chicken, fish, beef and/or pork and black-eyed peas) and chin-chin

  1. Congregate the people about the table that has been set with food.
  2. Greet one another with the words “Happy Kwanzaa!”
  3. Ignite the candles, starting with middle candle and alternating red (right), green (left).
  • Use the following words:
  • Leader: We light the candle of Umoja.
  • People: This is the candle of unity.
  • Leader: We light the candle of Kujichagulia.
  • People: This is the candle of self-determination.
  • Leader: We light the candle of Ujima.
  • People: This is the candle of cooperative economics.
  • Leader: We light the candle of Kuumba.
  • People: This is the candle of creativity.
  • Leader: Tomorrow we will light the candle of Imani.
  • People: That is the candle of faith.

After that discharge the tambiko (tahm-bee-‘koh) or libation. Fill the kikombe cha umoja (unity cup) with water and, using a little potted plant, transfer a little water into the plant after every libation. Using the word asante (ah’sahn’-tay) following every declaration, respect past associates of the church, those who were active in founding the local worshippers, past leaders, and priests.

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