Celebrate Kwanzaa with Denver Public Library

Matunda ya kwanza means first fruits in Kiswahili

Founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa combines aspects of several different harvest festivals into a seven-day celebration of family, community and culture from December 26 to January 1. Each night of Kwanzaa, a candle in the Kinara (candleholder) is lit and one of seven principles, or Nguzo Saba, are discussed. While every family may celebrate differently, each principle is rooted in universal beliefs that are found in every culture.

Additionally, there are seven symbols associated with Kwanzaa and are also expressed in Kiswahili. Mazao, (fruits, vegetables, and nuts), mkeka (place mat), the kinara (candleholder), vibunzi (ear of corn), zawadi (gifts), kikombe cha umoja (communal cup of unity), and mishumbaa saba (the seven candles placed in the kinara). During Kwanzaa it is customary to greet others by saying “Habari Gani?”(What is the news?), to which the appropriate response is to say the name of the principle of the day.

To learn more about the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, download your free coloring packet now!

Browse our catalog for books, videos, and more about Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Activities

Habari Gani? Come take part in a festive virtual experience highlighting the principles of Kwanzaa with dance collective the Friends of Joda, and more daily special guests!

Although we won’t have an event every day of Kwanzaa, we still encourage you to celebrate by honoring and remembering the past while stepping into the New Year!

Wednesday, December 28

1-2 pm

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Presenter: Hassan Latif, Founder, Second Chance Center

Thursday, December 29

1-2 pm

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Presenter: Confidence Omenai, Poet & Creative 

Friday, December 30

1-2 pm

Nia (Purpose)

Presenter: Dexter Nelson II, History Colorado Curator of African American History and Cultural Heritage 

Saturday, December 31

1-2 pm

Kuumba (Creativity)

Presenters - Friends of Joda

Written by dbrooks on December 8, 2021