When I think about celebrating Kwanzaa with my children. I enjoy taking a break from the holiday, “hustle and bustle,” with school activities, gift giving, sending cards, and making the epic Christmas dinner. I believe that Kwanzaa is a time for family togetherness, self-reflection, manifesting dreams, and setting up family goals before the New Year. Also, Kwanzaa is a special time to utilize the seven principles as a blue print to set family values in my household.
This is a time when we can move away from the overwhelming idea of materialism, and cherish each other as a growing family, and show support for each other moving forward to strengthen and unify our family and the community. Kwanzaa is celebrated over seven days between Christmas and New Year’s. Kwanzaa comes from the language of Swahili and means first fruits. Kwanzaa is all about family and togetherness.
The beginning of Kwanzaa
Dr. Maulauna Karenga founded the holiday in 1966 as a way to celebrate important aspects of African-American life, heritage, community, family, justice, and nature.
Lasting for seven days it is not a religious holiday. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are Nguzo Saba.
Nguzo Saba-Seven Principals of Kwanzaa
1. Umoja (Unity)
2. Kujichagulia (Self-determination)
3. Ujima (Collective work and responsibility)
4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
5. Nia (Purpose)
6. Kuumba (Creativity)
7. Imani (Faith)
Each day a candle collectively called the Mishumba Saba is lit in recognition of these seven principles. The candles one black, three red, and three green, are held by the kinara which is placed on a straw mat. One candle is lit everyday.
To honor the children in the family one ear of corn called vibunzi or muhindi is placed under the kinara for each child. Other symbols include mazao and a unity cup kikombe which are both placed under the mkeka the mat.
5 Easy Ways to celebrate Kwanzaa with my children
1. Read a book about Kwanzaa: My household is filled with books from the bookshelf to my children having their own individual sets of books. Reading about Kwanzaa is key before the celebration of the holiday begins for true comprehension and understanding of the holiday.
2. Setting up the kinara: Children can help parents set up the kinara, the mat, and the bowl of fruit.
3. Choose one of the seven principles to read out loud to the entire family: Children can choose their favorite principle during the week and read the word and the meaning out loud to the family.
4. Cook a traditional African meal: Children can help in the preparation if a traditional African meal like curry chicken and jollof rice, sweet potato, and banana bread.
5. Arts & Crafts: I love to do a crafty project with my little kingdom so pulling out some construction paper, markers, colored pencils, crayons and glue is a breeze! Have your children design a sign that you can later frame or scrapbook with what they learned over the week, or their favorite principal of Kwanzaa.