Kwanzaa is celebrated annually worldwide from December 26
through January 1. It is a time for African-Americans to commemorate culture
and food while giving special thanks to the creator. Parents are encouraged
to teach their children commitment to goodness which is beauty that promises
happiness to the family and community. Although the festivities includes
music, dance, readings and remembrances, food is a large part of the celebration.
For an authentic African touch, food is served on a low table with guests
seated on plump, colorful floor cushions either in a home, community center
or church decorated with the black, red and green Kwanzaa theme.
For Kuumba Yams, the family can create a fun, delicious and
nutritious treat. Rub 6 to 8 washed yams lightly with vegetable oil. Place
on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. (preheated) for 45 to
50 minutes or until tender. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel and
chop, cube or slice into a large bowl. Children can explore a variety of
flavors by adding such spices as allspice, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger
and/or nutmeg, and chopped or sliced apples, crushed pineapple or pineapple
chunks, raisins, a light drizzling of honey and a sprinkling of coconut.
The seven-day festival which ends on December 31 with the
traditional Karamu feast, begins and ends with prayer. The feast serves up
a variety of dishes that originally came to America with West Africans. African
Vegetarian Stew, African Squash and Yams (Futari), Baked Yams, Candied
Yams, Sweet Potato Fritters, Sweet Potato Pudding and Sweet Potato Pie are
just a few of the delectables. But, the feast is not complete without dishes
made with sweet coconut such as the Apple & Sweet Potato Bake With Coconut
Biscuits. The feast concludes with a program calling for unity, spiritual
development and asks everyone to reflect on and prepare for the future.