Here's How to Celebrate Kwanzaa


1. Get gifts

One core tenet of Kwanzaa is giving sentimental gifts, and it’s important that each present has a meaning behind it. Whether gifts are from a Black-owned business, are handmade, or just represent something of significance between you and your loved one, this is your chance to pick out something special. (It’s time your gift-giving skills grow beyond a personalized playlist and a card.)

2. Decorate

Tbh, there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than decking out your home for the festivities. The classic Kwanzaa setup is a mkeka (a woven mat) with an ear of corn, fruit, and, of course, the kinara.

The ear of corn represents fertility and hope for the future through children, while the various fruits are meant to symbolize both joy and the fruitful results of collective hard work. To top it off, a unity cup signifies community. On the sixth day, the cup is filled with water, wine, or juice and every family member takes a sip in remembrance of their ancestors and to symbolize togetherness.

3. Chef it up

Don’t even front—we all know that the best part of basically any holiday is the food, and you’re lying if you say otherwise. Kwanzaa is the perfect time to honor the many different cultures of the African diaspora through customary dishes like jerk chickenJollof riceblack-eyed peas, or any of the countless traditional recipes from around the world. *chef’s kiss*

4. Keep an eye out for local celebrations

Want to see special speakers, live music, and Black art on display? You’ve gotta hit up one of the amazing Kwanzaa celebrations that are hosted throughout the country this time of year. These events are great for basking in Black joy and honoring this holiday with style. If you’re trying to track down an event in your area, look no further than Soul of America’s comprehensive directory, which is stacked with events that are scheduled all around the states.

5. Buy Black

An extremely relevant element of Kwanzaa is the focus on cooperative economics, and that means supporting Black businesses. Stumped on where to start looking? There are plenty of resources out there for you to buy Black and to keep buying from Black-owned businesses in the future.

6. Consider contemplation

As with any holiday, it’s always good to take a step back and remember what Kwanzaa is all about. “There has to be some kind of moment of introspection, thinking about our ancestors and the descendants of enslaved African people globally,” Hunter says. “I think the most important thing about Kwanzaa is contemplation.”

Remember, as a cultural holiday, Kwanzaa isn’t tied to any particular faith. Every family celebrates Kwanzaa differently, so celebrate the holiday with your family and honor your African heritage however you choose to this year. Spread the love!

7. Watch something informative

I mean, who doesn’t love a movie night? Sometime during the week, take time to sit down with your loved ones and check out a bit of relevant educational content. There are tons of informative documentaries out there that embrace Kwanzaa’s core principles and will get you in the holiday spirit.

8. Pay it forward

Ujamaa, aka cooperative economics, can also include supporting Black-led nonprofits. Look into organizations that fund important Black causes, like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Loveland Foundation, and throw a little bit of $$$ their way.


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