You’ve likely heard of Kwanzaa. But what you might not know is that the deeply symbolic, Pan-African holiday was pioneered by Maryland-born activist Maulana Karenga. In 1966, the author and professor—who now chairs the Africana Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach—created the holiday as a way to amplify the seven principles of African heritage, which include unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Families celebrating Kwanzaa, which spans December 26 through January 1 this year, focus on a different value each day, and come together to light the kinara (a seven-branched candleholder) each night.
In Baltimore, there are plenty of ways to learn more about Kwanzaa while embracing the principles—whether you’re listening to stories, making crafts, or enjoying live performances.
12/21-29: Kwanzaa at Enoch Pratt
Close out the month with visits to the library to learn about the history of Kwanzaa, as imparted by Baltimore activist and radical educator Charles Dugger. Enoch Pratt Free Library. Various locations and times. Free.
12/21: What’s The New?
This Kwanzaa kickoff in Columbia has all the good stuff: fellowship, amazing grub, and endless inspiration. Join the Howard County Library System to learn everything about the winter holiday in time to make the most of celebrations. Howard County Library System Central Branch. 10375 Little Patuxent Parkway. Columbia. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free.
12/28: Annual Kwanzaa Celebration and Marketplace
Spend a day at the Eubie Blake Cultural Center, whose holiday market and showcase will feature a range of Charm City artists and performers. While taking in the musical and storytelling magic, be reminded of the principle of ujima, which represents responsibility and collective work. Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center. 847 North Howard Street. 1-6 p.m. Free.
12/28: Kuumba Collage-firmations Vision Board Party
In Laurel, channel kuumba (creativity) and usher in the new year by creating your own vision board. Your ticket comes with necessary arts and crafts supplies, delicious snacks, and an art e-book. Laurel Branch Library. 507 7th Street. 6-7:30 p.m. $25.
12/28: Kwanzaa Celebration 2022
Spend time with Howard County Executive Calvin Ball while learning about Kwanzaa and its principles in Columbia. Catch meaningful performances and let the little ones explore a fun-filled Kwanzaa kids’ corner. Harriet Tubman Cultural Center. 8045 Harriet Tubman Lane. Columbia. 5:30-8 p.m. Free.
12/31: Kwanzaa Creativity
Bring on the kuumba (creativity) with a kinara candle lighting ceremony, craft workshop, and veggie-friendly food bazaar in Elkridge. Howard County Library System, Elkridge Branch. 6540 Washington Boulevard. Elkridge. 1-4 p.m. Free.