Celebrate Kwanzaa with Denver Public Library

Matunda ya kwanza means first fruits in Swahili

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 Swahili. 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.

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

Kwanzaa Activities

Habari Gani? Come take part in a virtual, cross-cultural experience highlighting the principles of Kwanzaa with local artist and guest host, Jawana Norris, 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!

Monday, December 27


Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Presenter: R. Alan Brooks - Professor/Author

Pickup coloring sheets at the following branches (while supplies last)

Tuesday, December 28 


Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Presenter: Pamela Jiner, Girltrek Denver Representative


Wednesday, December 29


Ujamaa (Cooperative economics)
Presenters: Cecilia and Josh Hem Lee (Trini Rician Vegan)

Thursday, December 30

1-2 pm

Nia (Purpose)
Presenter - Educator and Wellness Advocate, JaLisa Williams, Soulflower Experiences

Written by dbrooks on December 8, 2021