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Hosting a Kwanzaa Feast (Karamu)

Hosting a Kwanzaa Feast (Karamu)

Hosting a Kwanzaa Feast (Karamu)

Celebrate the closing of Kwanzaa with your family and friends by hosting karamu, a special feast traditionally held on December 31.


  • Have your karamu early in the evening if you plan to also celebrate New Year's Eve.
  • When planning the karamu menu, include ingredients that traveled with Africans to the Americas--yams, sesame seeds, collard greens and hot peppers.
  • Zawadi, or Kwanzaa gifts, are often exchanged during karamu.


  1. Plan your karamu menu at least a week or two in advance. Include traditional African dishes as well as their modern African-American variations.
  2. Involve the entire family in planning and preparing for karamu. It should be a communal and cooperative effort.
  3. Decorate the room for your feast, following Kwanzaa guidelines. (See "Decorating a Table for the Kwanzaa Feast.")
  4. Begin by gathering the group and asking the question, “Habara gani” (“What is the news?”). Participants should respond, “kuumba” (creativity), which is the Kwanzaa principle for the day.
  5. Light the kinara, the Kwanzaa candleholder. Start with the black candle, then alternate red and green until the last red candle, which represents kuumba, is lit. (One green candle will remain unlit. This represents imani, or faith, and will be lit on the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa, January 1.)
  6. Recognize distinguished guests and all elders.
  7. Participate in or present some type of cultural activity--sing, play music, dance or read poetry.
  8. Provide testimony about what the seven principles of Kwanzaa mean to you and make a commitment to abide by the principles throughout the coming year. Ask each participant, including children, to do the same.
  9. Pour the libation, following Kwanzaa guidelines, and pass the unity cup.
  10. Rejoice in the renewed commitments to the seven principles of Kwanzaa by singing a song, playing drums or dancing.
  11. Enjoy the bountiful feast you and your family prepared.


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