Kwanzaa Crafts and Recipes for an Exciting Celebration
Celebrate community, sharing, and creativity with these Kwanzaa crafts and foods!
Margo Gothelf and Sarah Burns
It's time to celebrate Kwanzaa! Kwanzaa is a special holiday all about honoring African culture and heritage. It's a seven-day festival that begins every year on December 26, with traditions inspired by the traditional harvest festivals of West Africa. Kwanzaa traditions and symbols celebrate sharing, abundance, creativity, and community.
So, how is Kwanzaa celebrated? During the seven days of Kwanzaa, families light a special candle holder called the Kinara with red, black, and green candles, called Mishumaa Saba. Each candle symbolizes one of the seven core values of the holiday:
Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima
Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa
Families also celebrate by decorating their houses in Kwanzaa's colors and feasting on big meals to celebrate the harvest. The holiday culminates with a giant feast on the night of December 31st, where the table is decorated with corn, seasonal foods, and drinks from the unity cup to honor the ancestors.
No matter how you plan on celebrating Kwanzaa, these crafts and recipes will be an excellent addition to your party!
Egg Carton Kinara
The celebration of Kwanzaa is all about honoring community and creativity — and one way to do that is to make a kinara from scratch! The kinara is a seven-branched candleholder that is lit each night of the holiday. Each branch of the candleholder represents one of the main principles of Kwanzaa. Little ones can get in on the candle game without dealing with any actual flames with this cardboard kinara.
Kwanzaa Decorations and Sensory Toy
Crafting A Fun Life turns dried pasta into decorations for Kwanza with a bit of paint, string, and creativity. Paint the dried noodles red, black, and green — the Pan-African flag colors representing unity for Africans all over the world — and use them for all kinds of decorations. String them up on a necklace or place them in a bottle to make a sensory toy or noisemaker for the celebration.
Kwanzaa Felt Board
Did you know the holiday of Kwanzaa is relatively new — about 55 years old? The holiday was first introduced by the scholar Dr. Maulana Karenga, who was inspired by the African harvest festival to create a uniquely community-focused, non-religious holiday for the African American community. Celebrate Dr. Karenga's vision in all of its glory with an interactive felt board. The board shows off all the awesome parts of Kwanzaa, including a full harvest of food.
Looking for a Kwanzaa craft to get your preteen involved? Show them this wooden kinara. The DIY project has all the same aspects of the cardboard kinara but takes everything up a notch. And we mean up a notch — there are a few power tools involved, so kids might need Mom or Dad's assistance on this one. Unlike the cardboard kinara, this wooden one will last year after year, so it's definitely worth the extra effort.
When it comes to food for the Kwanzaa celebration, there's no lack of delicious options. The community-based celebration focuses on honoring all different African cultures, giving you hundred of traditional dishes to choose from. One of the main staples of the menu typically includes a one-pot stew, just like Red Red. The traditional dish, which comes from Ghana, is a tomato-based stew filled with black-eyed peas. After one bite, you'll quickly start planning how you can add this rustic dish into your everyday menu rotation.
West African Peanut Stew with Chicken
Peanut butter in a soup may sound a little strange at first, but that thought will quickly go out the window after one bite of this West African peanut chicken stew. The Ghanaian dish, traditionally known as Hkatenkwan, is a staple in West African culture and is eaten year-round (hey, every season is soup season!). This stew is so delicious and creamy that it will have you sneaking back into the kitchen for a midnight snack long after the feast is over.
Jollof Rice with Chicken
Ready to take your tastebuds on an adventure? Try a big bite of jollof rice. This staple African dish is bursting with bold and bright flavors. So what makes the rice so flavorful? It's all in the cooking process. All of the spices, veggies, and broth are given time in the pot to develop rich flavors and complex spice profiles. The biggest debate on the table won't be if you'll have seconds or thirds, but which Jollof rice is better, Ghanian or Nigerian?
Sop up all of that extra sauce from your delicious stew with a piece of mealie bread. If you love cornbread, you'll easily fall in love with this quick bread. This South African dish is made with creamed corn and mealie meal, which is very similar to polenta. Corn plays an important role in the Kwanzaa celebration: An ear of corn, called vibunzi or muhindi, is placed on the table for each child as decoration during the holiday feast, symbolizing how children are the hope of the future.
Malva Chocolate Pudding
Have room for some chocolate? I'm assuming that answer is going to be yes, no matter how full you are, especially with malva pudding on the table. The South African dessert is a treat like you've never had before. This cake is all about textures. The outside is caramelized, creating a sticky shell while the inside stays soft and spongey. And it doesn't stop there! Once it comes out of the oven, it is soaked in a warm butter sauce and chocolate. Oh, and you can top it with ice cream or whipped cream, just in case you want to make it even more decadent.
If chocolate's not your thing and you still want a sweet to indulge in at the end of the feast, go with a milk tart. The South African dessert couldn't be easier to make, and you probably already have all of the ingredients in your pantry. The milk tart, also known as meltert, looks like a pudding on top of pie crust, so don't be concerned if the custard doesn't exactly firm up. Either way, you'll go back for seconds and thirds — and maybe fourths and fifths.
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