Little boy lighting Kwanzaa candles with his dad

Kwanzaa Traditions

Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, observed for the first time in 1966 after it was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, chairman of black studies at California State University. Kwanzaa focuses on seven core principles (expressed in Swahili as Nguzo Saba); each principle linked with each day of the seven-day celebration. We share more of the history of Kwanzaa here, including the daily rituals of lighting seven candles, the harvest history of the event, and the common traditions practiced during Kwanzaa, including making Kwanzaa gifts, planning special theme meals, and honoring ancestors and elders. Want to involve your kids in Kwanzaa? Get our free Kwanzaa activities just for them -- a fun maze and a Kwanzaa term matching game ensure that they get to celebrate the holiday, too. Another way to enjoy Kwanzaa is to feast on traditional foods. Check out our Kwanzaa celebrations, a collection of the symbolic elements of the Kwanzaa table and a complete Kwanzaa menu to enjoy during the holiday, which includes family favorites, such as collard greens and a creole gumbo.