When Is Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African festival, which is observed by the Africans, living in the United States. It is observed between Christmas and New Year.

The weeklong celebrations of Kwanzaa mark the traditional legacy of African culture. The celebrations of Kwanzaa continue for seven days.

The festival of Kwanzaa was started in 1966 from December 26 and it continued until January 1, 1967. Since then, it has been a tradition to celebrate the festival from December 26 to January 1.

If you are wondering about when is Kwanzaa in the coming years, the details are mentioned below along with the date and day:


    • Kwanza in 2018: In 2018, Kwanzaa will be observed from December 26, 2018 to January 1, 2019.


    • Kwanzaa in 2019: In 2019, Kwanzaa will be observed from December 26, 2019, to January 1, 2020.


    • Kwanzaa in 2020: In 2020, Kwanzaa will be observed from December 26, 2020 to January 1, 2021.


    • Kwanzaa in 2021: In 2021, Kwanzaa will be observed from December 26, 2021 to January 1, 2022.


    • Kwanzaa in 2022: In 2022, Kwanzaa will be observed from December 26, 2022 to January 1, 2023.

Symbols of Kwanzaa

Explore the traditions and rituals followed by African families on Kwanzaa. Here are the details of the various symbols of Kwanzaa that marks the importance of this celebration. Each Kwanzaa symbol is imperative and denotes on unique feature of this festival.

Symbols of Kwanzaa

Mazao – (Crops which includes fruits, nuts and vegetables)

It symbolizes the work and basis of holidays. Mazao signifies the foundation of Kwanzaa and marks the community of African people who celebrate this festival. It is believed that the unity, sharing and happiness are the results of collective work.

The Africans believe that family is the center of social and economical base for developing any civilization. The festival of Kwanzaa was established to bring the bond between the families by corroborating their responsibilities and felling of commitment.

In earlier times, the ancient African families did not care about the number of members in the family but, there was one leader who was the eldest male from the strongest group. This was the reason that the entire village was considered as one family. The features of any family followed same traditions and had common customary practices. All the families had one political view as; they descended from the same ancestors.

Each tribe had fixed set of norms which safeguarded their identity and provided sustainability. The laws were based on the value system of traditions related to birth, adolescence, parenthood, marriage, maturity and death.

Africans work very hard and believed in making their livelihood by growing plants and feeding animals. This is demonstrated through the celebrations on Kwanzaa with nuts, fruits, vegetables on the “Mkeka”.

Mkeka – (Place mat)

The mat is made of straw or cloth and symbolizes the culture, customs and history of Africa. It signifies the historical base present and future. It is believed that like today stands on yesterday similarly, the symbols stand on mkeka.

The seven days of Kwanzaa people share, study, recall and reflect the history which is carried to create the future. The ancient families made mats which were made with straw. It is dried seams of grains which are sowed and reaped.

Today, people get mkeka made from Kente cloth, African mud cloth and other fabrics. These are made and then mishumaa saba, the vibunzi, the mazao, the zawadi, the kikombe cha umoja, and the kinara are placed on it.

Vibuzi – Ear of corn

Fertility and reproduction of offspring is signified by the stalk of corn. The children are future of family and bring hope to life. Vibunzi is one ear and more than that it is called Mihindi. Each corn ear symbolizes one child of the family. On mkeka one ear is placed for each child. In some cases if, there are no kids at home then one pair of ear is placed on mkeka.

Kwanzaa customs believe that love and care bestowed on people during childhood should be returned selflessly to all the other children. This is specially implied for the homeless and helpless ones. This enhances the good deeds of respect, positive thinking, discipline, compassion, charity, empathy and hope among the future of the community i.e. children.

Each tribe in Africa is very protective about their children and works very hard towards their welfare.

Mishumaa Saba – Seven candles

Candles symbolize the power of Sun and are to illuminate. The group of 7 candles which are lit during Kwanzaa are traditionally named as, Mishumaa Saba. Red, black and green colored candles are used to light up the Kwanzaa period of seven days.

Black candle represents Umoja which means unity. Three green ones are on the lfet side of black one. These signify Nia, Ujima and Imani which means Collective Work and Responsibility, Purpose and Faith. There are three red ones also which are for Kujichagulia, Ujamaa and Kuumba. These depict self determination, creativity and Cooperative economics. These candles are placed on one candle holder which is called “Kinara”. This stand is in different shapes and sizes and signifies the ancestry of the African tribes.

Kikombe Cha Umoja – Unity cup

The unity cup is kept to perform the ritual of ‘tambiko’ on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. This religious ceremony of Kwanzaa is performed by African communities, which is a ritual on the living dead. It is believed that the last portion of libation would take people nearer to spirits and ancestors. This libation could be made of water, juice or wine and is given by the eldest family member to all the younger ones. This is shared to promote unity and oneness.

Zawadi – Gifts

On the seventh day of Kwanzaa, people exchange gifts to promote success, growth and self determination in their community. Elders generally pass on gifts to children and this sharing takes place within immediate family members.

Handmade gifts are more popular in the traditional families. People avoid buying things from stores and believe that personal gifts foster bond. The famous gifts are ‘kinaras’, dolls, cards and mkekas.

Wish you all enjoy the festival and hope you gathered information on symbols of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Songs

Kwanzaa is an African festival, in which the Africans, residing in the USA celebrate their cultural heritage. This weeklong celebration starts from December 26 and continues until January 1.

Kwanzaa songs are one of the major parts of the celebrations. They describe thee traditions and customs of the Africans. Given below are the popular songs of Kwanzaa:

Traditional Kwanzaa Songs:

Song 1:

“Seven Days to Celebrate Kwanzaa
Seven Days of the Ngoza Saba
Seven Candles on the Kinara
Seven Days to remember who we are

African Americans
Come together – Be as One
Everyday in Every way
Light the candles of our faith

Kukaribisha Kwanzaa (Welcome)
Kukumbuka Kwanzaa (Remembrance)
Kushangilia Kwanzaa (Rejoicing)
Come celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa – the harvest first fruits
It feeds the souls of our African Roots
Kwanzaa – calling us home
To embrace the past and to know our own

Kukumbuka Kwanzaa, Kukumbuka Kwanzaa
Kushangilia Kwanzaa, Kushangilia Kwanzaa
Kukaribisha Kwanzaa, Kukaribisha Kwanzaa
Come Celebrate Kwanzaa, Come Celebrate Kwanzaa.

African Americans
Come together – Be as One
Everyday in Everyway
Light the candles of our faith

Kukaribisha Kwanzaa, Kukumbuka Kwanzaa
Kukumbuka Kwanzaa, Kushangilia Kwanzaa
Kushangilia Kwanzaa, Kukaribisha Kwanzaa
Come Celebrate Kwanzaa, Come Celebrate Kwanzaa.

Kukaribisha Kwanzaa (Welcome)
Kukumbuka Kwanzaa (Remembrance)
Kushangilia Kwanzaa (Rejoicing)
Come celebrate Kwanzaa.”

Song 2:

Habari gani,
Habari gani?
What’s new, what’s happening?
Kwanzaa is here!
Habari gani,
Habari gani?
What’s new, what’s happening?
Kwanzaa is here!

From festivals of long ago,
Habari gani?
Comes this celebration.
Kwanzaa is here!
Families come together
Habari gani?
Talk about nguzo saba.
Kwanzaa is here!

Each night light a candle,
Habari gani?
On the kinara.
Kwanzaa is here!
When we work together,
Habari gani?
We can make our dreams come true.
Kwanzaa is here!”

Kwanzaa Songs for kids:

Song 3:

“Kwanzaa-Man! Kwanzaa-Man!
Coming straight out of Africa Land
Mishumaa Saba! I put those in my Kinara.
Here comes Kwanzaa Maaaaaaan!

Corn and mats! Corn and mats!
Kwanzaa uses corn and mats!
Habari gani? Today’s the day of Imani!
Mkeka, Muhindi, and Zawadi!

Kikombe cha Umoja, filled up with fruit ambrosia. Dr. Maulauna Karenga. Creator of the Kwanzaa.
Jambo! Here comes the Kwanzaa-Man!
On “Jumapili” I’ll have a Kwanzaa party.
Sunday night, don’t be late! You need not be black to celebrate!
Twende! ‘Cause I bought way too much corn.”

Short Kwanzaa Songs:

Song 4:

“Kwanzaa is a time to light
A glowing candle every night
A time to show How much we care
A time to think about the past
And values that we want to last”

Song 5:

“Red, green, black,
Red, green, black.
Kwanzaa’s here,
Kwanzaa’s here.
The decorations are quite a sight,
We light a candle every night,
The holiday is filled with light.
Kwanzaa’s here.”

Song 6:

“One little, two little, three little candles
four little, five little, six little candles
seven little candles shine for Kwanzaa
shining in the kinara
three little red and three little green ones
black in the middle shines a little taller
shine little candles, shine for Kwanzaa
shining in the kinara.”

Song 7:

“Seven days of Kwanzaa, seven days to celebrate
Seven ways of Kwanzaa, seven reasons to celebrate
Celebrate your history celebrate your family
Honor creativity and celebrate with me
Seven days of Kwanzaa, seven days to celebrate
Seven ways of Kwanzaa, seven reasons to celebrate
Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa, Kwanzaa.”

Song 8:

“Sing a song of Kwanzaa
For seven nights long.
Light a Kwanzaa candle
As each night comes along.
Celebrate first harvest
And for unity.
That’s the way to celebrate
With friends and family!”

Song 9:

“The red candles shine.
The red candles shine,
When it’s time for Kwanzaa
The red candles shine.

The green candles shine.
The green candles shine,
When it’s time for Kwanzaa
The green candles shine.

The black candle shines.
The black candle shines,
When it’s time for Kwanzaa
The black candle shines.”

Seven Days of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a seven day long African traditional festival in the USA. The Africans, living in the US celebrate this festival to make the heritage of rich African cultural heritage alive.

This festival starts on December 26 and it ends on January 1 each year. As mentioned earlier, each of the seven days is marked with a principle. Each of these seven days of Kwanzaa is observed after different principles. Given below are the principles of Kwanzaa:

  • Umoja or Unity: First day of Kwanzaa
  • Kujichagulia or Self-Determination: Second day of Kwanzaa
  • Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility: Third day of Kwanzaa
  • Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics: Fourth day of Kwanzaa
  • Nia or Purpose: Fifth day of Kwanzaa
  • Kuumba or Creativity: Sixth day of Kwanzaa
  • Imani or Faith: Seventh day of Kwanzaa

The seven days of Kwanzaa are celebrated after different rituals and each day has special significance on the observance of the festival. The detailed description on the activities of the seven days of Kwanzaa, are mentioned below:

    • Umoja or Unity: Kinara is the traditional setting of Kwanzaa. On the first day of the festival, people decorate the kinara with black candles, which symbolize the first principle of Kwanzaa, namely, unity. The member of the family, who lights the candle make one statement of the principle. The Unity Cup or Umoja is filled with the fruit juice, which is distributed among all the members and guests. In some families, each Umoja is presented to each member. The Umoja is left at the corner of the table after drinking. After Umoja, the candles are put out.
    • Kujichagulia or Self-Determination: The used black candle is lit on the second day along with the red candle at the extreme left. This setting represents the second principle of Kwanzaa, namely Self-Determination. Ideally, people read poems on that orinciple and also state how these poems are related to their life. After drinking the fruit juice, they put out the candles for the day.
    • Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility: The black candle is again lit on the third day, followed by the red candle on the farthest left and green candle on the farthest right. This setting symbolizes the third principle of the festival, collective work and responsibility. The members of the family discuss about this principle and its validity on their lives. After sharing the Unity cup or Umoja, they extinguish the candles.


    • Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics: On the 4th day, the Black candle is lit, followed by the red candle on left, green on right, and red candle next to the farthest red candle. This candle setting represents the fourth principle of Kwanzaa, the collective economics. The family members discuss on the fourth principle and then they share the Unity cup and put off the candles.


    • Nia or Purpose: On the 5th day, the black candle is lit, followed by the same pattern. This time, the green candle next to the farthest green candle is lit. After discussing the fifth principle of Kwanzaa, all the family members share the Unity Cup and put the candles out.


    • Kuumba or Creativity: Kuumba is observed on 31st January. The candles are lit. People invite their friends to their house in order to join in the festival. They decorate their houses, dress in traditional cloths, reads poems, and listen to African music. There is a unique tradition of asking the guests to bring some dishes to the invitation. Everyone takes his or her drink and after that, the candles are put out.


  • Imani or Faith: On the seventh day, all the seven candles are lit. After discussing the values of the principle, the family members share the unity Cup with the guests. All the candles are extinguished and this marks the official closing of Kwanzaa festival.

Kwanzaa Recipes

Kwanzaa is one of the African American festivals which is not bound by any religion. You are welcome to be a part of this weeklong celebration and enjoy the special Kwanzaa recipes.

The cuisines in Kwanzaa are blend of African and American ethnicity. This is the reason that you would surely enjoy the meals on Kwanzaa. Here are few Kwanzaa recipes for you to try out and enjoy the festival.

  • African Tomato-avocado-buttermilk Soup


3 lb Tomatoes (peeled and seeded)

2 tablespoon Tomato paste

1 cup Buttermilk

1 tablespoon Olive oil

1 Avocado (mashed to a puree)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot pepper sauce

For Garnishing: 1 Cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced); sour cream, plain yogurt or creme fraiche


  • Puree tomatoes in a food processor or food mill
  • Press through a sieve to remove seeds
  • Now, in a large mixing bowl, beat the pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, buttermilk, and oil
  • Toss pureed avocado with 1 tablespoon lemon juice to hold the color
  • Add the avocado, remaining lemon juice and parsley to the tomato mixture
  • Stir to mix well
  • Season with salt and pepper and generously add drops of hot pepper sauce
  • Refrigerate several hours before serving

Servings – for 8-10 servings

  • At serving time, taste soup for seasonings
  • Scoop into individual bowl and have guest garnish their portions with cucumber and sour cream
  • Pass hot pepper sauce around to add more tartness
  • Yassa Chicken


3 pound chicken (cut into 8 pieces)

1 ½ cups thinly sliced onions

6 cloves garlic (halved)

1 cup thinly sliced celery (2 ribs)

1 cup thinly sliced carrots (2 small)

2 limes zested and juiced

1 fresh hot chili pepper (Scotch bonnet or habanero) (quartered)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 quart chicken stock

For Garnishing:

2 cups julienned carrots (blanched)

2 cups julienned leeks (blanched)

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon butter


  • Marinate chicken for 3 to 5 hours in onions, garlic, celery, carrots, lime juice, and hot pepper
  • Strain, remove chicken and pat dry
  • Reserve vegetables
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in Dutch oven in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Remove chicken, and pour off excess fat
  • Deglaze pan with chicken stock and add chicken and marinated vegetables
  • Allow cooking, covered, over medium heat until chicken is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes
  • Remove chicken and reserve in warm place (oven preheated to 250 degrees)
  • Strain sauce through china cap or sieve
  • Season the sauce with lime zest, salt, and pepper
  • Warm the chicken in sauce
  • Warm the blanched carrots and leeks in 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon butter, plus salt and pepper

Servings – You can serve this Kwanzaa dish with Cooked enriched rice or Sautéed Greens

Hope you try these mouth watering Kwanzaa recipes and gather applauds from all your near and dear ones.

Kwanzaa Pictures

Its Kwanzaa time and you are away from our family. You would be surely missing all your loved ones on this festive week. Check out for the beautiful Kwanzaa pictures to make your feel at home. You can get the pictures of symbols of Kwanzaa and also of the celebrations. The images of Kwanzaa are the best way of decorating your living spaces.

You can send the Kwanzaa pictures to all your loved ones and convey your hearty messages. It is tradition to exchange gifts with the family members on this festive season. Handmade gifts are very much liked by the traditional families. Create Kwanzaa greeting card by attaching photos on it. With it you can write the poems and passages that would narrate the significance of each principle. This is a wonderful way of showing your love and affection to all your friends and families.

You would have moved to other parts of the world and it becomes impossible to attend the Kwanzaa festival with the entire community. This is the reason people have started opting for instant messaging and emails to greet each other.

The stamp on Kwanzaa was issued by the United States of America postal services to promote this festival. You can always opt for these stamps if, you sending postal cards and gifts to your loved ones.

There are many types of Kwanzaa pictures that you can send to your near and dear ones. You can also, get Kwanzaa posters and wallpapers on Kwanzaa for your décor. Get the African American traditional celebration be part of your celebration. Here are some of the very famous messages you can types or print on the greetings for Kwanzaa.

  • Happy Kwanzaa
  • Its Kwanzaa time
  • Celebrate Kwanzaa
  • Conveying regards on Kwanzaa
  • Wishing you Kwanzaa greetings

History of Kwanzaa

Festival which marks community oneness, spirit of joy, harvest season and customary principles is Kwanzaa. Explore the history of Kwanzaa to know the details of this only African-American festival which is internationally acclaimed and is celebrated worldwide.

Kwanzaa history and origin

History of Kwanzaa dates back in 1966. This African American festival was initiated and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga on 26th December. The festival starts from 26th December to 1st January. The celebrations are week long and each day symbolizes one important principle. The seven principles are traditionally named as, ‘Nguzo Saba’.

This foremost African American holiday is derived from ‘matunda ya kwanza’ which is a Swahili phrase. The term means first fruits. Swahili is the choice because of its base in East Africa that reflects the status symbol of Pan Africanism of the 1960s. This traditional festival marks the harvest seasons in different cultures of Africa. People from both Africa and African-American ethnicity follow the customs of Kwanzaa. On discovering the history you would find that Kwanzaa roots are in black nationalistic movements.

The main idea behind the celebrations of Kwanzaa is to provide cultural identity to the African community. Its focus is on the seven principles which have boasted the African community and traditions.

The major social and political changes in the sixties decade resulted in the emergence of Kwanzaa. This era marks the revolutionary period of African and African-American struggle for freedom. At this time when this festival was conceived by Karenga it resulted in solving cultural and economical differences.

Nguzo Saba – seven principles of Kwanzaa

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Present celebrations – Kwanzaa

To commemorate this festival the United States Postal Services issued the first Kwanzaa stamp on 22nd October 199. This was one of the artworks by Synthia Saint James. In the 2004, another stamp was released which was designed by Daniel Minter. This stamp had seven figures in colorful robes and each signified one principle of Nguzu Saba.

There was also, a film which was released in the year 2009. The movie narrated a documentary “The Black Candle” which was created by Maya Angelou. It was one of the award winning short films about Kwanzaa.

Wish you all enjoy the celebrations and hope you find the information on history of Kwanzaa interesting.

Kwanzaa Food

Kwanzaa is not a religious festival like Christmas. It is traditional festival, which is observed to recognize and affirm the African culture in the USA.

Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration of African heritage and culture for those, who live in the United States. Kwanzaa starts on December 26 and ends on January 1. They celebrate the festival with traditional Kwanzaa food.

All the Kwanzaa food items originated from the African continent. They are inspired from different tribal traditional foods in Africa. Peanut soup and fried Okra are the traditional foods of Kwanzaa.

The traditional feast of Kwanzaa is organized on the sixth day in the festival. During the feast, they serve different kinds of African dishes. Some Kwanzaa food items are mentioned below:

A traditional Kwanzaa dinner consists of:

  • Koki: Koki is an appetizer, which is made of black-eyed peas.
  • Peanut Soup: Peanut Soup is one of the main traditional African foods, which is served on the dinner table during the festival. This is a pan-African and African-American soup.
  • Jollof Rice: This is a main dish of the dinner.
  • Okra and Greens: This is a popular side dish in the traditional dinner.
  • Chinua Achebe: This side dish is made with sweet potatoes.
  • Dessert: In dessert, they serve fruit salad or coconut pie.
  • Beverage: The Africans keep a number of beverages on the dinner table such as ginger beer or green tea with mint.

Some of the recipes of the main dishes are mentioned below:

Recipe of Peanut Soup: For 8 servings


  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2 chopped large bell peppers
  • 1 to 3 mashed large garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon Canola oil
  • Chopped tomatoes with juice
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked short grain rice
  • 2/3 cup of smooth peanut butter
  • Chopped roasted peanuts

Method: Take a frying pan and cook onions, garlic, and bell peppers until the onions turn light brown. After that, add the chopped tomatoes along with its juice. Add pepper, broth, and red pepper flakes in it after some time. Cook all the ingredients for 15 minutes on low heat. Add rice and cook it for 30 minutes. Include the peanut butter in the pan and cook until the rice is melted. Garnish the soup with the roasted peanuts and serve hot.

Recipe of Fried Okra:


  • 16 oz of okra
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of cornmeal
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper / cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup of bacon fat/vegetable oil

Method: Bring fresh okra and wash them properly. Cut the tips and stems of the okra. Cut them into small spices. Take a mixing bowl and add salt, pepper, flour, and cornmeal, and mix them well. Take a small bowl and beat the egg well. Dip the cut okra into the beaten egg, followed by in bowl of the mixture of flour. Make sure to cover all the edges of the okra with egg and flour. prepare the flying pan with low heat. Put some vegetable oil in it. Put the okra for deep frying and cook until they turn brown. Make sure the okra become crisp and deeply fried. Serve hot.