Good to Know: The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa

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READING TIME: 4 min.

With so much going on at the end of each year, it can be easy to overlook traditions and customs that many don’t typically celebrate. Kwanzaa is an African American celebration of life and a great way to plan and build for the new year. People of all races and ethnicities can find meaning in the universal principles of Kwanzaa.

Each night of Kwanzaa represents a chance to delve into meaningful work and purpose-building. Kwanzaa traditionally begins on December 26 and last for seven days. Each night, you light a candle and focus on a specific theme. It’s a time to reflect on your inner desires and how you can channel those desires into feasible ventures, all while supporting and uplifting those around you.

After seven nights of planning and preparation, you should feel ready to step into the new year with renewed purpose.

principles of KwanzaaAbout the 7 Nights of Kwanzaa

Umoja (Unity)

The first day of Kwanzaa is dedicated to unity in your family and community. To celebrate, plan to spend time together as a family. Visit with your neighbors and talk about your plans and goals for the new year. Find out how you can be of assistance to the people around you. All charitable organizations can use help year-round, but especially during the holidays.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Next, lets dive into the self and what you need in order to boost yourself to the next phase of life. On the second day of Kwanzaa, we will work together as a family to create vision boards and plans for the new year. This includes identifying the goals and objectives we intend to work on in order to further our personal visions. They say a dream written down with a date becomes a goal. Set some goals for the new year and discuss how you can assist each other in making things happen.

Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)

The best way to celebrate this day is by volunteering your time toward a local cause or organization. Ujima is all about getting involved to make a difference. Choose a cause for your family to support in the new year and commit to doing what you can throughout the year to help further that cause.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Today, it’s all about supporting local minority-owned businesses. As a small business owner myself, I know community support and patronage are extremely important. Small businesses provide vital goods and services without the backing or customer flow of the major retailers. Small businesses thrive on your patronage and stellar reviews, so shop and be sure to leave positive feedback regarding your experience. Know someone with a small business? Share their information on your social channels or spread the word to family and friends to help expand their customer base.

Nia (Purpose)

On the fifth night of Kwanzaa, consider ways to further your chosen purpose. We all have special talents and skills that can be used to help ourselves and those around us. Think of ways you can build upon your purpose. If you are hesitant or unsure of what your purpose is, just know we are all here for a purpose and finding yours will make life so much more enjoyable.

As a mom, it can be especially difficult finding an individual purpose when so much of our existence is tied to our children and family life. Moms have a shared purpose of taking care of children and significant others. But it’s good to find your individual thing and work toward making it great.

Kuumba (Creativity)

Now that you have thought about your individual purpose, it’s time to get to work living in that purpose. Find ways to creatively walk in your purpose while encouraging and assisting others to do the same. A bit of purpose mixed with self-determination, unity, and cooperative economics is the recipe to success! Find ways to creatively blend these ingredients and allow the ensuing growth to propel you through the year.

Imani (Faith)

On the final night of Kwanzaa, celebrate all that you have discovered with those closest to you. Spend the evening encouraging each other and make a commitment to uplift and assist each other in making your dreams a reality. Change can sometimes be scary. It’s easier to cast those fears aside and move forward when you have the encouragement of those closest to you. Channel your faith and share it with those around you.


As you can see, Kwanzaa is full of meaning and opportunity for growth. I encourage you to get in on the Kwanzaa fun this year. I am certainly looking forward to entering the new year with the principles of Kwanzaa as my foundation.

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