Just ’cause you go to Kwanzaa events …

doesn’t mean you actually celebrate Kwanzaa. Not by a long shot.  Over the years I’ve met many people who attend Kwanzaa events. That’s nice. Let me be clear though. Celebrating Kwanzaa on a personal level in our own homes is one thing whilst attending Kwanzaa events is another. Of course some Kwanzaa celebrants head to events on occasion. True dat. Kwanzaa events are never a replacement for intimate, home-based gatherings though.  For celebrants, observing the holiday with friends & family (and building on it each year) is our focus.  Many of us are creating unique Kwanzaa traditions that we hope will be passed onto our grands, great-grands etc. We are all about the business of making Kwanzaa vibrant, colourful & fun so suffice it to say that lighting the Mishumaa Saba (candles) and discussing the Nguzo Saba (principles) isn’t quite enough. We get IN! We’re not trying to “get Afrikan” (whatever that means) for 7 days. We don’t adorn ourselves in our cultural attire like it’s some sorta costume. Certainly not! Trust me, we already know who we are. Kwanzaa is simply a time to celebrate ourselves  and the best of what our culture (ancient & contemporary) offers.

What are some of your family’s Kwanzaa traditions?  Here are a few you may dig:

– Make a special dessert a day or two before Kwanzaa. Enjoy them for Kwanzaa eve (Dec.25).  Ankh/Africa/Heart/Star-shaped cookies may go over well in your house. Gingerbread wo/men ones are cool too. Decorate them with raisins, RBG sprinkles etc. Stay up a little later than usual that night. Play some games, make a few cards, pump up some music & dance/sing, catch a movie, finish making those zawadi etc. Have some good ol’ fashioned family FUN!!!

– How ’bout blessing your children with treat bags on the morning of Dec.26? They’ll LOVE it!! Here’s how. Get a small brown paper bag for each child in your household. Decorate each bag in a culturally appropriate manner. No “artists” necessary. Place a few treats inside each bag. Suggestions are homemade popcorn & cookies, fresh and/or dried fruit, 1-2 pieces of candy, a small book, a relevant colouring/activity page, stickers, an ancestral quote/affirmation or two, a knitted/crocheted item. Place the bag(s) on or outside their bedroom door(s) after they’ve gone to sleep on Kwanzaa eve. Another idea is to hide the bags somewhere in your home. Your children will find/open them in the morning (Dec.26).

– Have a special breakfast on one of the 7 days. Some like to do this for Umoja (Dec.26). Whatever works for your family is fine. Remember to include some RBG foods ie. pancakes topped with homemade (green) applesauce along with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries.  A fruit salad with lots of RBG fruit may go over well too.

– Consider giving your child(ren) a gift per day. That is, 7 small gifts for each child.

P.S.- Better believe we exchange zawadi (gifts). Many of us even wrap our gifts in pretty fabric or reused wrapping paper/gift bags.

Kwanzaa treat bags


5 thoughts on “Just ’cause you go to Kwanzaa events …

      • That’s so true.lol We will spend big bucks to go out to a concert and be entertained. When we should be investing in things that uplift and embrace our culture. We got it so backwards. We need to get our heads straight and our priorities in order.

  1. I’m saying that lots of us are “embracing our culture” IN PUBLIC. On a very personal level, not so much. That’s been my experience anyway. Many of us like to put on a show for others ie. all the lingo, dress, hairstyles, diet etc. I’d love to see the day when our children grow up in households that are culturally grounded 24/7. That is, when no one else is looking. Only then will our children take us seriously. You get me? Kwanzaa should be a time when we celebrate what we’ve been doing all year. So many of us are still saying that we celebrate Kwanzaa when what we really do is wait for others to plan Kwanzaa events so we can simply show up, look cute and have a good grease (aka meal).

    • Okay I see what you’re saying now. Yeah that’s very true. Out here in California we have a few events here and there. But we definitely could use some more. The black consciousness mindset out here doesn’t seem as strong as it is on the east coast. California is so multicultural and every type of lifestyle is embraced out here. Being “pro-black” is kind of frowned upon in these parts. But being mixed and biracial is the “in thing” to embrace. I see too much anti-blackness in American culture anyway. Even in a post-Obama era not much has changed for our people. Black people need to take the blinders off and wake up to reality. I hope it’s different wherever you live. And I hope our people continue to learn about their culture and traditions that their ancestors participated in. But I do agree that celebrating Kwanzaa is a great start. I’ve been sending out Kwanzaa cards for the last few years. You have to start somewhere. I know it can be hard for people to break away from the old traditions you did as a kid. It’s hard at first—but it can be done.

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