Holiday season is in full swing, and while you’re finishing up the last things on your holiday bucket list, it’s important we highlight Kwanzaa and how NYC is celebrating this year! Particularly in Harlem and other Caribbean neighborhoods around the city, we’ve put together a guide about the holiday and what’s going on around NYC!
What is Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is a an annual holiday that celebrates African-American culture, unity, and heritage. Devised in 1966, this holiday honors African social values and typically consists of large feasts, gatherings, gift exchanging, and more!
When is Kwanzaa this year?
Kwanzaa this year begins on on December 26 and goes until January 1, 2023.
How is Kwanzaa celebrated?
Kwanzaa is celebrated as a week long celebration, with each day representing one of “The Seven Principles.” Check out The 7 principles of Kwanzaa below:
1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
2. Kujichagulia (Self-determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
3. Ujima (Collective work and responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
With these themes in mind, each day a different principle is focused on, which corresponds to a candle lit on a kinara (candleholder). The principle of umoja (unity) is discussed on the first night and the center black candle is lit. On the final day of Kwanzaa, families enjoy an African feast, called karamu.
Kwanzaa Events in NYC 2022
Now that we have a better understanding of the holiday, let’s take a look at how NYC is celebrating!
1. Celebrate Kwanzaa at Brooklyn Children’s Museum
This year is the 15th annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Join the museum for 5 days of live music, dance demonstrations, spoken-word presentations, art-making, food, and more! The program will “explore the ideas behind the 7 principles of Kwanzaa by taking visitors on a journey back in time to the 1960s where they will explore the cultures of different locations around the American South and Northeast.” Tickets to the museum are required. Learn more here.
Where: 145 Brooklyn Ave, Brooklyn
2. PaleyLand Holiday Extravaganza
Open now, this inclusive holiday experience celebrates not only Kwanzaa, but also Christmas, Hanukkah, and Three Kings Day. You’ll find experiential holiday exhibits, Kwanzaa-themed holiday screenings, and arts and crafts. The Paley Center’s rich vault of Kwanzaa-related media makes this the perfect place to learn about the holiday while also celebrating! Learn more here.
Where: 25 W 52nd St
3. Kwanzaa: A Regeneration Celebration at The Apollo Theater
In its 17th rendition at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem, this Kwanzaa performance will be celebrating the core characteristics of the holiday: family, community, and culture. Through dance, spoken word, and song, you’ll be able to enjoy an evening’s performance centered around unity, self-determination, sharing, and giving back to local communities. The show is Dec 30 at 7:30 pm.
Where: 253 W 125th St
4. 3rd Annual Kwanzaa Extravaganza at Brooklyn Masonic Temple
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One of NYC’s largest Kwanzaa celebrations is happening on Dec 26 at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple for its third year. With the goal to be celebrated with Nia (purpose), there will be performers (drumming, dancing, poetry, etc), food, music, and children’s activities. The event is free and it is recommended to dress to impress in African attire! Learn more here.
Where: 317 Clermont Ave, Brooklyn
5. Kwanzaa Film Festival
This free film festival will be showing different African American-rooted films that celebrate the roots of Kwanzaa. It’s a fundraiser event, meaning donations are accepted and there will be done of great opportunities going on! There will be music, dancing, networking, a Kwanzaa candle lighting, and a solidarity circle with the film founders. It’s happening from Dec 26 – Jan 1. Check out the film lineup below and learn more here:
- Rock Bottom
- Jac on The Come Up
- Ethan Art Venture
- In Between The Devil
- The Rainy Day
Where: 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Junior Boulevard