Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26 – January 1, was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The cultural (not religious) holiday is an African American celebration of the values of family, community responsibility, commerce and self-improvement. As Dr. Karenga says, “Kwanzaa is celebrated through rituals, dialogue, narratives, poetry, dancing, singing, drumming and other music, and feasting.”

Kwanzaa is based on Nguzo Saba, seven social principles

  • Umoja (Unity)
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
  • Ujima (Collective Work & Responsibility)
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
  • Nia (Purpose)
  • Kuumba (Creativity)
  • Imani (Faith)

Each of these seven principles is represented by a candle in the Kinara (candleholder). A black candle should be placed in the center of the Kinara, with three green candles on the left and three red candles on the right. Each day a candle in the Kinara is lit to celebrate one of the seven principles, beginning with the black candle in the center and lighting the rest of the candles from left to right.

Kwanzaa Decorating and Entertaining Ideas with Flowers

  • Ask your florist to create an arrangement of flowers in the traditional Kwanzaa colors, with fruits and vegetables to surround the Kinara.
  • Position red flowers and greens throughout the room to accent the Kinara.

For an elegant celebration, take advantage of all places where candles could be displayed:

  • Line a walkway with votive candles in luminaries leading up to a door.
  • Place garland on the mantle with fresh flowers and candles to beautifully grace your room and make the most of light by enhancing the fire.
  • Float candles and flowers in treasured crystal or silver bowls to create a fabulous effect.
  • Place scented candles with fresh blossoms in each powder room.

If an open house is on the agenda and many persons will be in a room, it is important to give special attention to the larger display areas such as the front door, foyer, mantle, buffet or serving areas, powder rooms, windows and staircase. This will help you get maximum impact because with many people in a room smaller arrangements placed around will not be seen at all times. Additionally, by focusing on a few focal areas in each room, more space is made for glasses, cups and food plates… and there is less chance of an accident.

As guests leave, have a vase of loose flowers by the door and invite them to take one home as a gift.

Originally created for The Society of American Florists

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