Healthy Kwanzaa


Kwanzaa is a seven-day African celebration based around seven principles and featuring agricultural harvest festivals. These seven principles, Nguzo Saba, according to Amplify Africa, “inspire Black people to be united, self-determined, accountable for their communities, financially invested in Black-owned businesses, purposeful with their lives, creative and full of faith.” But,  just like the other holidays in this blog series, small changes can be made to Kwanzaa celebrations to make it a Healthy Kwanzaa!

The Seven Principles

  1. Umoja – unity
  2. Kujichagulia – self-determination
  3. Ujima – collective work and responsibility
  4. Ujamaa – cooperative economics
  5. Nia – purpose
  6. Kuumba – creativity
  7. Imani – faith

There are specific items put on display during Kwanzaa celebrations. All items are placed on a placemat, or Mkeka, including a seven-candle holder (Kinara), a unity cup (Kikombe cha Umoja), crops (Mazao), corn (Muhindi), and gifts (Zawadi). Each day another candle is lit and celebrants reflect on the principle of the day. The gifts are for children, are often handmade, and always have cultural value. Each day of Kwanzaa includes a feast, and throughout the celebration ancestors are honored, talents are displayed (especially on Day 6), and Day 7 is a day of deep reflection.

Healthy Kwanzaa Recipes

Eating Well is just one of the places to find Healthy recipe options for a Kwanzaa celebration, including Creole Skillet Cornbread, Jamaican Jerk Chicken Legs with Cabbage Slaw, and Spicy Stewed Okra and Tomatoes.

COVID-Friendly Kwanzaa

  • Try to keep gatherings small and incorporate virtual gatherings if necessary
  • Celebrate outside! If weather permits, the outdoors can be the perfect place to celebrate the agricultural roots of Kwanzaa
  • Decorate your space! A fun family activity, decorating can make the restrictive nature of the pandemic seem easier and can add more of a festive spirit to your celebration
  • Go virtual! Beyond being an alternative to in-person large family gatherings, there are several virtual Kwanzaa celebrations you can stream live!
  • Remember the reason for the holiday! Take time to reflect and keep it simple so you can really enjoy the holiday

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