Happy Kwanzaa cards

The holiday season is a time for wonderful cultural celebrations — including Kwanzaa. It’s a holiday filled with creativity, gratitude, and displays of the core principles of African heritage

Whether you’re celebrating Kwanzaa this year and are looking for some fun ideas or simply want to know more about the holiday so you can send a message to those who celebrate, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to how to celebrate Kwanzaa — along with beautiful card ideas to help you say “Happy Kwanzaa” to someone special. 

What Is Kwanzaa All About?

Happy Kwanzaa: kid lighting up candles to celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American culture, heritage, principles, and values. It was created by activist Maulana Karenga in 1966 and designed originally as an alternative to Christmas that celebrates Black culture and history. It’s not a religious holiday but a cultural one. These days, many people celebrate both Kwanzaa and a religious holiday of their choice, and it’s seen as an additional holiday instead of a replacement.

The name Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrasematunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” — with an extra “a” on the end to symbolize the seven principles. These seven principles of African heritage, also known as Nguzo Saba, are celebrated over the seven days of December 26 to January 1 as follows: 

  1. Umoja (Unity) — to aim for and foster unity within the family, race, nation, and community
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-determination) — to define, create, and speak for ourselves
  3. Ujima (Collective work and responsibility) — to work together to build and maintain our communities
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) — to create and maintain our own stores and businesses so that we profit from them together
  5. Nia (Purpose) — to strive toward building a community that restores our traditional greatness
  6. Kuumba (Creativity) — to create and find ways to leave our community more beautiful than it was before us
  7. Imani (Faith) — to believe in our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle

These seven principles of Kwanzaa represent the strong values within communities of African heritage and guide the different ways to celebrate and honor the holiday and its traditions. 

8 Wonderful Ways to Celebrate Kwanzaa This Year

Happy Kwanzaa: table setting for Kwanzaa celebration

Kwanzaa is a celebration of culture, community, and coming together to make things better. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate throughout Kwanzaa or to say “Happy Kwanzaa” to loved ones this year. 

1. Learn About the Holiday

If you’re new to celebrating this African American holiday, now is the perfect time to learn more about it. Much like other holidays around this time of year, such as Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s, Kwanzaa has its own traditions and a rich heritage that deserves a deep read. Head to your local library or attend a Kwanzaa celebration in your community to learn more about this key part of Black history

2. Create a Kwanzaa Display

A Kwanzaa display is a wonderful way to honor the traditions of the holiday within your home. Find or set up a table within your home, somewhere that it can be seen and enjoyed. Place a woven mat on the table, with a kinara (seven-branch candle holder) and mishumaa saba (the seven candles) on top. These candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa. You can also add a unity cup to symbolize the unity of family and community.

Finish your display with crops like squash, sweet potatoes, and dried ears of corn. These symbolic foods represent the bounty of the harvest, while the ears of corn specifically represent any children celebrating the holiday in the home. 

3. Cook Up a Feast

Traditionally, a feast known as Karamu is held on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. During Karamu, friends, family members, and the community gather together to enjoy a rich meal followed by dancing. Popular dishes to serve include jerk chicken, catfish, collard greens, okra stew, and gumbo — but you can also include personal favorites and recipes passed down through the generations. 

4. Give and Receive Thoughtful Gifts

Kwanzaa is a time for community and sharing, which is why people often give beautiful, thoughtful gifts to each other during the holiday. These small gifts are often homemade or practical (like a book) — but buying gifts from Black-owned businesses is another great way to honor the seven principles and wish someone “Happy Kwanzaa.” 

5. Light the Mishumaa Saba

A key part of the daily routine during Kwanzaa is lighting the mishumaa saba. These candles, placed in the kinara, symbolize the seven principles. A black candle stands in the center to represent Black people. Three red candles to the left represent the Black struggle, while the three green candles to the right represent hope. Each day, a new candle is lit from left to right until all shine brightly together on the seventh day. 

6. Attend a Kwanzaa Celebration 

A great way to get excited about the holiday and celebrate with your community is to attend a Kwanzaa event or ceremony. Events are held throughout the days of Kwanzaa and often feature music, singing, dancing, and artistic performances. If you can’t find an event in your local area, plan a road trip to one nearby — or consider hosting your own!

7. Give Your Time and Resources to Others

Kwanzaa reminds us of the importance of community and building up those around us. This makes it a great time of year to get involved with volunteering in your local community or giving your time, expertise, or resources to charity projects. You could also choose to shop with Black stores, donate funds to community projects, or help out your neighbors. 

8. Send a Thoughtful Kwanzaa Card

If you want to share the love this Kwanzaa holiday season, send a beautiful online card to someone who celebrates the holiday — or to someone with whom you want to share the joy of Kwanzaa. This is a wonderful and easy way to celebrate with loved ones wherever they are in the world. You can also consider sending a card to everyone in your local community to wish them a “Happy Kwanzaa.” 

Beautiful Cards to Help You Say “Happy Kwanzaa

At Greenvelope, our Kwanzaa cards are inspired by traditional colors, patterns, and symbols with a contemporary twist. Customize any design by changing the layout, fonts, and colors — then add a personal message to wish someone a happy Kwanzaa. Below are a handful of our favorite Kwanzaa holiday cards.

Flowing Stripes Kwanzaa Card

Flowing Stripes Card

Design: Signature Greenvelope

This Flowing Stripes card features the classic Kwanzaa color palette with modern waves that mix contemporary styling with the traditional aspects of the holiday. There’s room on the front for a beautiful large photo and space on the reverse for a personal message or poem.

Kinara Kwanzaa Card

Kinara Card

Design: Signature Greenvelope

Send your love and wish everyone a happy Kwanzaa with this Kinara card. The modern illustration style, traditional colors, and symbolism of the kinara and mishumaa saba come together to create a joyful card. 

The Seven Principles Kwanzaa Card

The Seven Principles Card

Design: Signature Greenvelope

Embrace the meaning behind the holiday with this Seven Principles greeting card. Each of the principles is spelled out on the front of this card for a beautiful reminder of what Kwanzaa is all about. The gold foil effect border and text add a touch of elegance to the card, which has lots of space on the back for your personal greetings. 

Celebrate Kwanzaa Your Way

Kwanzaa is a wonderful time of year, filled with reminders about the importance of family, community, and the seven principles. Use these ideas to help you plan a Kwanzaa celebration with your loved ones or to inspire you to learn more about the holiday and show appreciation for those who celebrate. However you enjoy the holiday, we wish you a very happy Kwanzaa.