Honoring African American heritage and its rich traditions, Kwanzaa is celebrated Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 with keynote speakers, dinner feasts, music, dancing and the seven-day lighting of the Kinara. "Our children must know that knowledge of Black history is important and the continuity of observing Kwanzaa is culturally beneficial and absolutely necessary," says Town of Hempstead's deputy supervisor, Dorothy L. Goosby.
All are invited to partake in festivities that are based on African harvest festival traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa. Seven principles that aim to inspire are at its core. "I am excited about celebrating the seven principles of Kwanzaa and especially the seventh principle Imani, meaning faith, as we recommit to all that is of value to us as a family, community, people and culture," says Fabian Burrell, coordinator for programming and community engagement, for the Center for African, Black and Caribbean Studies at Adelphi University, which held its celebratory event earlier this month.
Celebrate the richness of African roots at these Kwanzaa events that are planned this month:
Town of North Hempstead celebration
141 Garden St., Westbury
Includes a tree lighting and celebration with a musical performance, 5 p.m. Dec. 15 at Yes We Can Community Center.
More info northhempsteadny.gov, 516-869-2401.
Town of Hempstead celebration
Town Hall, 1 Washington St., Hempstead
The annual celebration takes place, 6 p.m. Dec. 15, and is hosted by Town of Hempstead's Deputy Supervisor Dorothy L. Goosby's office. There will be a guest speaker along with entertainment including dancing and singing by local students. A traditional Kwanzaa chief discusses the seven principles of the holiday and after the program, you're invited to partake in a karamu (feast) that usually focuses on traditional southern cuisine like fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and candied yams and can also include Caribbean cuisine such as stewed or jerked chicken.
More info hempsteadny.gov, 516-489-5000 ext. 4304.
255 Schenck Ave., Westbury
Explore African symbols, learn about the principles of Kwanzaa and make handmade gifts, 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 17 at Westbury Arts. The event is hosted by Marcia Odle-McNair, author of “Kwanzaa Crafts: Gifts and Decorations for a Meaningful Celebration."
Half Hollow Hills Community Library
55 Vanderbilt Pkwy., Dix Hills
Cultural celebration focuses on traditional African American values of family, responsibility and self-improvement, 2 p.m. Dec. 17. The event is presented by the Mother’s Club of Wheatley Heights with the Concerned Fathers of Wheatley Heights and the library.
Cost Free to all Nassau/Suffolk library cardholders; register in advance, two admissions for every library cardholder.
More info hhhlibrary.org, 631-421-4530.
Cradle of Aviation Museum
1 Davis Ave., Uniondale
The Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs invites you to celebrate Kwanzaa and the traditions and principles of African American history at "Lighting the Way to Empower Our Future," 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Reckson Center. Doors open at 5 p.m.
Long Island Children's Museum
11 Davis Ave., Uniondale
Join Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and Long Island Children's Museum to learn about the meaning behind Kwanzaa. You'll also create a a mkeka which is a traditional straw mat used on the table during Kwanzaa and a beaded ear of corn , 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 28.
Cost Free with $17 museum admission
More info licm.org, 516-224-5800.