For seven days, from December 26 to January 1, African-Americans celebrate their African heritage and affirm seven important principles of community and family life. As with most holidays, traditional foods play a central role.
The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. The colors of Kwanzaa -- green, black, and red -- often are visible on the holiday table, along with the symbolic elements. Serve these African-inspired foods during your celebration.
Symbolic Elements of the Kwanzaa TableAfrican-Creole Turkey Gumbo
- Mkeka (m-kay-cah): a straw mat representing tradition as the foundation on which everything else rests.
- Kinara (kee-nah-rah): a seven-branched candleholder symbolizing the ancestors. A candle is lit each day.
- Mshumaa (mee-shoo-maah): the seven candles representing the principles that are the focus of the celebration.
- Muhindi (moo-heen-dee): ears of corn, standing for the children, or potential for children, and hence posterity.
- Kikombe cha umoja (kee-coam-bay cha oo-moe-jah): the unity cup that is passed from guest to guest filled with a libation to honor the ancestors.
- Zawadi (sah-wah-dee): small gifts that reward personal achievement
Turkey-Seafood Gumbo This hearty meat and vegetable stew will satisfy a crowd.
Corn Sticks Be sure to make extra -- individual servings of hot cornbread always disappear fast.
Beef and Groundnut Stew Peanut butter adds a unique flavor to this hearty option.
Collard Greens with Coconut Milk Coconut milk gives this Southern staple an exotic touch.
Pinto Beans and Rice With ham and sausage mixed in, this can be a main dish or a hearty side.