The holiday season is a time for family and friends to come together. It is a time to carry on old traditions. For some, it is a time to start new ones. Kwanzaa is one of the many holiday celebrations that makes this season so special. Traditionally, I grew up celebrating Christmas in our home. Now, with a family of my own, I am starting a new tradition. In addition to Christmas, we now also celebrate Kwanzaa! At first, I was hesitant to celebrate Kwanzaa. I wasn’t sure if I would do it “right.” Honestly, however, there isn’t a wrong way to celebrate or honor this holiday. Kwanzaa is a cultural celebration of community and African heritage. This holiday takes place December 26th through January 1st.
Kwanzaa is not reserved solely for African American households. This article explains the candle lighting process and how to celebrate in the traditional manner. Likewise, there are many ways for any and every family to celebrate the essence of Kwanzaa. Keep reading to learn about the top 3 ways to celebrate Kwanzaa this holiday season.
Practice and apply the seven principles of Kwanzaa throughout your daily routine
The seven principles are the foundation of the Kwanzaa holiday. One of the top 3 ways to celebrate Kwanzaa includes applying each of the seven principles to your daily life. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa represents a key principle.
First, umoja, meaning unity, is honored on the first day. This principle is applied by spending time with family and friends. Also, community gatherings are a way to celebrate Kwanzaa unity. This is a great opportunity to teach your children about acceptance and kindness towards others.
On the second night, Kujichagulia, or self-determination, is highlighted. This second principle inspires individuals to take action. Consider doing, creating, promoting, or voicing something that uplifts the black community.
The third principle is Ujima, or collective work and responsibility. On this day, be encouraged that together we can turn problems into progress. Is there a local initiative you have been wanting to be a part of? We have the power to improve the experiences and realities of the African-American members of this community. Tasks do not have to be grand or time-consuming. To honor this Kwanzaa principle, start by taking action. Reach out to government officials regarding ongoing issues. Join the Parent Teacher Association at your child’s school. Diverse representation is always a need in settings where important decisions are being made. Particularly, when those decisions involve your little ones. Embracing Ujima involves intentional actions that support the black community.
Next, the fourth night represents Ujamaa, meaning cooperative economics. Supporting and promoting black businesses is a great way to honor this principle. Wealth inequality is an ongoing issue among minority groups. Embrace and support the presence of black business owners. Promoting the importance of financial literacy in the black community is what Ujamaa is all about.
The fifth principle is Nia, or purpose. Nia represents more than simply individual goals. This principle is honored by participating in efforts that restore and build up the black community. Just by celebrating Kwanzaa, I expose my children to new African cultural experiences. For me, this effort alone has provided me with a greater sense of purpose in my parenting journey.
Kuumba, the sixth principle, encourages creativity. Notably, this principle is focused on doing what we can to make our community more beautiful than it was when we found it. This will look different for each family, and that is okay. Perhaps, for your and your family, Kuumba involves a community service project. Maybe you and your family create artwork, to hang in your home. You might even consider using the symbolic green, red, and black colors to represent Kwanzaa. To honor this principle, you can do whatever leaves you feeling proud and fulfilled.
Finally, Imani, the seventh principle represents faith. Imani is believing fully and wholeheartedly in our people, parents, teachers, and leaders in the community. I believe that there is power in celebrating African heritage. I know that my children will benefit from seeing people who look like them in a variety of roles, within our community. Lastly, I hope that celebrating Kwanzaa provides my children with an increased sense of confidence and pride.
Participate in an in-person or virtual Kwanzaa celebration
Similarly, community events are a great way to learn about and celebrate Kwanzaa. These experiences commonly take place in-person or virtually.
My family and I will be participating, virtually, in the Detroit Charles H Wright Museum Kwanzaa festivities. During Kwanzaa with the Wright, the museum will be hosting seven nights of celebration. From December 26th through January 31st, Each night will represent a different principle. There will be songs, dancing, storytelling, poetry reading, and vendors. This event is free and offers in-person and virtual viewing options.
Saint Stephens Church in Lansing typically hosts an annual Kwanzaa celebration as well. Details have not yet been released for this year’s event.
Perhaps you are not able to devote much time to any scheduled Kwanzaa events or festivities. Instead, picture books are the perfect alternative. Books provide another way for young children to better understand Kwanzaa and its purpose. Here is a list of some popular Kwanzaa titles. Also, be sure to check with your local library. Feel free to comment below, if you know of some other great options not included!
Support a black business or organization
During Kwanzaa, and beyond, I am always excited for the opportunity to support a black business. After all, Kwanzaa focuses on the power of uplifting the black community. Buying from black-owned businesses acknowledges that fourth principle, Ujamaa, cooperative economics. This is one of the easiest ways to celebrate Kwanzaa and support its purpose.
Here is a list of some amazing black-owned businesses in the Lansing community:
- Sweet Encounter Bakery This gem specializes in baked goods and classes. Nikki is great with kids, and truly a master of her craft! If you have any young, aspiring chefs in your household, check out her Sweet Encounter Kids Culinary Academy. She provides interactive monthly cooking kits, as well as, in-person classes.
- Juice Nation Stop in for their organic cold pressed juices. Their smoothies are also delicious! They have three locations, in downtown Lansing, East Lansing, and Okemos. Staff is always friendly and helpful, if you are indecisive like me.
- Everything is Cheesecake This shop specializes in custom ordered cheesecakes and cheesecake stuffed strawberries. You might have seen their food truck at local events. They recently secured a physical location, that is set to open soon! Follow on instagram for more information!
- The Socialight Society Founder, Nyshell Lawrence founded this bookstore business as a way to celebrate black women and black literature. Her new space will be opening soon! Follow on instagram to stay updated!
- Skin Studio 211 Lorin takes such great pride in her business and her work! This salon provides a host of services, including: Facials, waxing, brows, lashes, makeup, massages, and more! Visit her website to learn more or book an appointment!
- Northstar Birthing Services Need a birth doula? Postpartum doula? Breastfeeding support? Domonique and Shardé are top tier and amazing at what they do! If you’re in need of more information, reach out to them on Facebook or Instagram!
- Personal Image Salon & Day Spa I have been knowing Charles and going to Personal Image Salon for nearly two decades. He and his staff are committed to always providing excellent service. If you are in need of: Hair styling, nail service, facials, massages, or waxing, Charles and his team have you covered!
- Aux Petit Soins Gaëlle is a native French speaker. She describes her language center as being a little slice of Paris, right here in Lansing. This French Cultural Center provides fun and interactive language immersion classes to infants through adults. You can learn more about the programs she offers here.
- Urban Beat Events Hosting an event? This black female-owned unique and beautiful event space provides the perfect venue for any occasion. In addition, they have a patio, as well as, full bar and catering options available.
What Kwanzaa means to me and my family
All in all, I love being able to start new traditions with my family! I want my kids to know their heritage. Likewise, I also want them to grow up having strong morals and values. Additionally, I believe representation is so important. I love finding opportunities for them to acknowledge and experience people who look and sound like them. It is meaningful for them to see those individuals are making an impact in the community. Furthermore, I hope it inspires and encourages them that they can too! More so, I think everyone can benefit from applying some of the Kwanzaa principles to your daily life. I hope you are feeling excited and more informed about ways to celebrate Kwanzaa. I encourage you to incorporate some Kwanzaa spirit into your holiday routine! Happy Holidays to you and your family!