The day after Christmas marks the beginning of the storied Pan-African holiday Kwanzaa. Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, the annual holiday shows reverence to Pan-African beliefs and traditions. Spanning seven days, Kwanzaa marks a celebration of culture, family, and community. The weeklong observance begins December 26, and each day represents one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
Each day holds new meaning and serves as preparation for the new year or harvest. Houston has many ways to celebrate, including the most prominent weeklong celebration at S.H.A.P.E. Community Center. Still, there are other free events and markets that honor the Kwanzaa holiday and its origin.
Begins December 26, 5–8 p.m. | 3815 Live Oak Street | Free
S.H.A.P.E Community Center in Third Ward has the city’s largest Kwanzaa celebration every year, and this year is no different. Expect live performances with singing, dancing, spoken word, and candle lighting. Last year’s event featured Kofi Taharka, the chairman of the Black United Front. Although this year’s official program has yet to be released, anticipation has been slowly building for the 2022 guest speakers.
December 27, 10:30 a.m.–Noon | 100 W Walker St, League City, 77573 | Free
The Helen Hall Library in League City is celebrating Kwanzaa with an afternoon of hands-on activities for kids of all ages. The day will consist of Kwanzaa stories, arts and crafts, and a short performance.
January 1, 3–8 p.m. | 5309 Martin Luther King Blvd | Free, donations accepted
Imani, which means faith, is the final principle in the Kwanzaa tradition. The free market event is sponsored by the Greater Houston City-Wide Kwanzaa Committee and will take place at the Shrine Cultural Event Center in Third Ward. On the last day of Kwanzaa, visitors can shop for artworks and enjoy food and live entertainment, which includes a drum circle performance at 4 p.m. As the new year begins, the community can hone in on faith and create a collective consciousness to build a better tomorrow.