Kwanzaa is the African-American cultural holiday that is celebrated between December 26 and Jan 1st. The holiday, while not celebrated by all African-Americans, was developed out of a desire within the community to strengthen family and community ties. Each year families, neighbors and friends gather in homes and community centers to light the Kinara, share in the Karamu (feast) and exchange the zawadi (gifts).
The exchanging of gifts is not the focus of this cultural holiday however, the zawadi can and do offer the opportunity to share wonderful treasures that are handmade, homemade and/ or culturally focused. There are endless ways to create, develop or design beautiful zawadi for Kwanzaa.
The arrangement of treasured family photos in a Kente (African fabric) covered album is a gift that is family-centered and will be cherished for years by siblings and cousins. A family cookbook, chocked full of favorite recipes, is sure to bring smiles especially if you include pictures of the great cooks.
Another wonderful gift for family members is a framed family tree. College students will cherish a family photo collage mouse pad. These can be created at many of the sites that do photo processing locally or on the internet. To inspire a dear friend for the entire year give a cultural journal jar or a Kente covered writing journal. If you can sew, crochet or knit, you can design and create oodles of culturally based clothing, blankets or wall hangings. Personalized tee-shirts and sweatshirts are always great fun to make and receive too.
Other ways to create unique zawadi could include a visit to one of the many virtual and local Black owned businesses throughout the country to develop a basket full of favorite things. For example, the literary lover in the family will be thrilled with a basket that includes the latest thriller by a well know black author, a culturally focused bookmark and a homemade snacks. Coordinated clothing and jewelry that is culturally focused for the fashion enthusiast will surely bring smiles. African-American games, dolls and action figures are especially wonderful gifts during this season for the kids.
The important thing to remember when we celebrate Kwanzaa is that it should be a season filled with love, harmony and rededication to family, community and faith. If you keep this in mind, you will always come up with the perfect zawadi.
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