The holiday season is already underway and in that odd time between Christmas and New Years, it’s important to highlight Kwanzaa as celebrations started yesterday and will extend to January 1st. Here’s everything you need to know about the holiday and local celebrations in Chicago
What is Kwanzaa?
Activist and author Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966 to celebrate African heritage within African American culture. With various rituals, celebrations and reflections going on throughout the week, Kwanzaa pays homage to values and traditions rooted in diasporic African cultural elements.
Celebrating culture, unity, and heritage, the holiday honors African social values and can consist of feasts, large gatherings, gift exchanges and more reverly. Rooted in Swahili tradition, Kwanzaa is a time for people of African descent to reflect on culture and values, an place an emphasis on family and community.
When is Kwanzaa this year?
Kwanzaa this year begins on on December 26 and goes until January 1, 2023.
How is Kwanzaa celebrated?
Kwanzaa is a week long celebration in which each day represents one of “The Seven Principles.”
What are the 7 principles?
Each of the seven days represents an important principle: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Keep reading for a full breakdown below:
1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
2. Kujichagulia (Self-determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
3. 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.
4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6. 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.
7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
A different principle is focused on each day, corresponding with a lit candle on a kinara (candleholder). The principle of umoja (unity) was discussed yesterday on the first night when the center black candle is lit aflame.
Kwanzaa events in Chicago:
The City Colleges of Chicago is hosting a day of events today to celebrate Kwanzaa, the Malcolm X College is hosting live performances, drum processions and more until 6 p.m. tonight. Shop local vendors and celebrate the holiday at the annual gathering. The official schedule can be found below:
- Children’s story times at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Drum Call at 12 noon
- Vendor Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Performances featuring the Thunder Sky Drummers, Emmy award-winning vocalist Joan Collaso, local dance company Najwa Dance Corps, and more
Kwanzaa Observance Program at the DuSable Black History Museum
The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center wrote, “Today, we celebrate Kwanzaa, a seven-day festival that honors African American culture and history from Dec. 26 – Jan. 1. Each day represents one of seven African cultural principles that help build and reinforce community among Black people. On this first day of Kwanzaa, we will light the black candle and celebrate Umoja (Unity).” They will be hosting a celebratory event tomorrow, December 28th at noon for a Kwanzaa Observance Program as they bring families together, honor ancestors, practice traditions and celebrate collective achievements. Address: 740 E 56th Pl, Chicago, IL 60637
Family Craft Time Kwanzaa Craft at Chicago Public Library
December 28. from 3-4 p.m.
Chicago Public Library is hosting a special family craft time during Kwanzaa! Children and parents can create holiday placemats for the Karamu feast on December 31. Open to children ages 3 and above, the free event does not require any preregistration.
Address: 5724 W. North Ave.
Kwanzaa Celebrations at Garfield Park
The Chicago Park District is offering a celebration filled with art, food, music and vendors to celebrate with the community on the second to last day of the holiday. From 10 a.m, to 3 p.m. head over to the free event to ring in the holiday!
Address: 100 N. Central Park Ave
A Nightly Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting Ceremony
When: December 26 to January 1
Starting every night at 5 p.m, the village of Flossmoor comes together to light the kinara candles in Flossmoor Park. Clocking in at a 37 minute drive from the city community members and visitors are welcome at the free event.
Address: 2449 Flossmoor Road. Flossmoor, IL
On the final day of Kwanzaa, families come together to enjoy Karamu, an African feast.Kwanzaa began yesterday and will continue on until January 1st with celebrations around the city.
[Featured photo via: Shutterstock]