Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday that celebrates concepts like history, values, family, community, and of course, culture, that was first started in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga. Today, millions of people across the world celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa by lighting the seven-candled Kinara, in which each candle represents one of the seven principles and is lit on a different day. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and continues for seven days, ending on January 1st.
If you’re hoping to celebrate Kwanzaa in D.C. this year, then we hope that you find this guide helpful!
Celebrate the history of Kwanzaa with Mama Ayo’s storytelling
On the first day of Kwanzaa, December 26th, you can start the holiday with Mama Ayo, an esteemed author, cultural ambassador, and traditional African heritage rituals officiator, who will lead a group into a traditional call and response ceremony to honor our ancestors. Following the ceremonial story session, participants will also be able to partake in the lighting ceremony of the 1st candle in the Anacostia Community Museum’s Kinara.
This recent will occur at 1 pm on December 26th at Anacostia Community Museum.
Join in on the “Citywide Umoja Celebration”
On December 26th, at 6 pm dive into the holiday with a celebration that features authentic African drummers and dancers, traditional storytelling, double Dutch, and even shop at a genuine pop-up African marketplace featuring authentic items as well as dining options that reflect the history of Kwanzaa.
The event will take place at the Northeastern Presbyterian Church, 2112 Varnum St, NE, in D.C. so be sure you get there before it gets overcrowded!
Experience the first-ever Kwanzaa display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture
While the museum has participated in Kwanzaa for years now, this will be the first year that it has a dedicated display that you can visit and learn from. The display will be open to visit at the museum between December 26th and January 1st and will include a number of the iconic items associated with Kwanzaa, including a kinara candle, a mkeka mat, and a traditional Kwanzaa playlist.
You can visit the display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture at 1400 Consitution Ave NW in D.C.!
Above all else, even if you can’t make it to any of these events listed above this year, the Secret Washington D.C. team wants to wish you a happy Kwanzaa and a great start to the new year!