Kwanzaa traditions center around the seven principles of the holiday, one for each night.
The celebration begins each night with someone calling out the greeting “Habari gani?” (“What’s the news?”). Everybody responds with the name of the principle for that night.
The candles of the kinara are then lit in a specific order. The first night, the black candle is lit. For each subsequent night one more candle is lit, from left to right.
The Seven Nights and Principles of Kwanzaa:
December 26 Umoja (Unity)
December 27 Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
December 28 Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
December 29 Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
December 30 Nia (Purpose)
December 31 Kuumba (Creativity)
January 1 Imani (Faith)
The sixth night, December 31, features a large feast called Karamu. On the final night, a farewell statement is given; everybody takes a final drink from the unity cup and the kinara candles are extinguished.
Kwanzaa is a family affair, so choose activities that honor and celebrate your nearest and dearest.
Put together a family scrapbook: Ask guests to bring their favorite photos and small, special mementos from the year and organize them into a scrapbook.
Let your creativity shine: Group sing-alongs, poetry readings and dance performances get the joint jumpin’ and keep everybody in the holiday spirit.
Create a family tree: Round up relatives to help you map out your family tree.
Make jewelry: String African beads into colorful necklaces and earrings. These will make gorgeous additions to your Kwanzaa set as well as great gifts.