Kwanzaa, a festival of lights rich in African symbolism, takes place each year from December 26th through January 1st. Maybe Kwanzaa is part of your personal cultural tradition. Or maybe you want to learn more to acknowledge and support a friend’s or loved one’s celebration. We’ve got ideas to help you craft meaningful, encouraging and joyful messages that reflect the spirit and importance of the holiday.
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Kwanzaa is the celebration of Black family and community, culture and traditions, history and heritage, and unbreakable hope for the future. It’s where ancestors and elders are honored and children are cherished. Kwanzaa is where the Black past is commemorated and the Black future is celebrated. It’s where struggle is acknowledged but the persistence, resilience and transcendence of Black people are heralded.
This year especially, so many Black families are feeling in need of the strength drawn from common cultural identity, community connection and shared faith. Kwanzaa means even more as the hard work of social justice continues.
When you sign your Kwanzaa card this year, you won’t be simply wishing someone a happy holiday. You’ll be expressing cultural and emotional support as well as shared hopes for a brighter and more just future.
A simple wish is a great way to go, especially when you may not share your recipient’s cultural heritage or any experience with Kwanzaa.
- “Habari Gani! Wishing you a blessed Kwanzaa.”
- “Heri za Kwanzaa!” (Swahili for “Happy Kwanzaa!”)
- “Sending warm wishes for a joyful Kwanzaa!”
- “Thinking of you during Kwanzaa and sending happy wishes your way!”
- “May this Kwanzaa be an especially meaningful one for your whole beautiful family.”
- “Joyous Kwanzaa! Wishing you the most beautiful fruits of the harvest.”
Helpful Tip: Keep in mind that Kwanzaa is different from Christmas. And while it’s always thoughtful to send messages of happiness and joy, picking up on the culturally specific meanings of Kwanzaa is important when sending your wish.
Kwanzaa is a holiday of sevens: seven days, seven letters in Kwanzaa, seven candles in the kinara, or candleholder, and the seven principles pulled from African tradition that are a central part of the celebration.
These principles are known as the Nguzo Saba: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity) and Imani (faith).
You might choose to incorporate one or more of these in your message in some way.
- “Wishing you the joy that pride and unity bring.”
- “Wishing you happiness at Kwanzaa and faith, unity and hope in the New Year.”
- “Hoping Kwanzaa brings you time to enjoy the blessings of family, community and togetherness.”
- “Hoping that the New Year takes you all the wonderful places you are determined to go.”
- “May you create the best Kwanzaa and happiest New Year.”
- “Let the candles of Kwanzaa light the past, the present and the future ahead.”
Helpful Tip: Get creative! You could use the symbolic number seven to frame your Kwanzaa message, for instance: “Seven Wishes for You at Kwanzaa,” “Seven Reasons I Love Thinking of You During Kwanzaa,” “Seven Reasons I Take Pride in Our Family” or something similar.
Personal compliments can be another option if you have a closer relationship with the recipient. Fun and short compliments that affirm the uniqueness and importance of Black identity can be a great way to uplift.
- “Your spirit shines as bright as the kinara!”
- “Celebrating how beautifully you do Black Excellence.”
- “You’re 100% Black Girl Magic/You’re 100% Black Boy Joy.”
- “You’re a divine inspiration to us all.”
- “Beautiful, Black and Gifted…there’s nothing you can’t do.”
Helpful Tip: Think about what makes your recipient who they are. Let them know how much you value, love and respect them with a compliment that feels authentic and true to your relationship.
Send messages of gratitude to those in the community—relatives and respected community members who keep Black legacies, traditions and stories alive for future generations.
- “Celebrating the light you bring to this world and all the lives you’ve touched.”
- “We love you so deeply for the blessings you give us.”
- “You’ve seen a world we’ve never known because you made it better for us.”
- “Thank you for being a gift to our community.”
- “You’ve sacrificed, prayed and planned. You brought us to where we are.”
- “Thank you for the love, our proud heritage and for being the wonderful person you are.”
Helpful Tip: Elders are deeply revered within the Black community as sources of communal wisdom and as bridge-builders for future generations. Consider messages that respectfully acknowledge this vital role they have within their family and community.
The shelter of brotherhood, sisterhood and community means even more at Kwanzaa. Black families, kinship groups and communities come together to reflect on the trials and triumphs of the past. But they also cast their collective hopes toward the future.
- “Thanking God for the Brothers and Sisters who shine their light on us all through the year. Thanking God for you.”
- “Kwanzaa is a rejoicing time for our community and all the good in our lives. So thankful for you.”
- “Kwanzaa reminds us that we’re rich in the love of family, the support of community, the power of our unity and the friendship of people like you.”
- “Brothers and Sisters help us stand tall, move forward and hope into the future. So glad I got you, Fam.”
- “So proud of who we are, what we share and how we empower each other.”
- “I’m thankful for all the times we show up for each other, no matter what. So glad to have you in my life.”
Helpful Tip: Try for sentiments to express gratitude, support and empowerment when sending Kwanzaa messages to your kin and people you care for in the community.
Young people are a very important part of Kwanzaa, symbolizing the future. If you’re writing to a child or teen, you might look forward to that bright future in what you write.
- “You’re perfectly Black and beautifully you.”
- “You’re a Black history fact in the making!”
- “You’re more than our future. You’re our right now, too. So proud of you!”
- “Our history dreamt of a future just like you.”
- “At Kwanzaa, we’re celebrating the future. That’s you!”
Helpful Tip: Black children are the future and hope of their people. They will carry forward the cultural values and practices instilled within them. The care and upbringing of children is often seen as a shared responsibility within Black communities. So feel free to share your support, encouragement and wisdom.
Black resilience, the collective ability to withstand even tremendous challenges, runs throughout the philosophy and celebration of Kwanzaa. As the past few years have been full of emotional pressures and distress for Black people, messages of resilience are especially important.
- “You’re still standing, beautiful and strong. You’re still you.”
- “We put strength in each other’s bones and laughter in each other’s souls. So glad we’ve got each other.”
- “We do prayers of protection, say words of love and show up for one another. So blessed we are family.”
- “We will always walk with purpose together. So glad we hold each other up.”
- “At Kwanzaa I want you to know that I see you standing strong. And I stand strong beside you.”
- “Let Kwanzaa be a time when you pause to replenish the resilience you carry inside.”
Helpful Tip: In a year that’s been even more trying because of injustice and unrest, Black resilience that flows from self-care, self-affirmation and self-love matters more than ever. It’s okay to support your recipient with these kinds of messages.
When Black people talk about having pride in themselves it’s a way of talking about how much they’ve overcome against racism and other kinds of unfairness. It’s a way of saying that their lives, safety and humanness matter in a society that has often said they don’t. It’s a way of reclaiming and renaming their beauty, their history and their importance.
So when you send a message of Black Pride, know that you are sending a message of love.
- “Our hearts are filled with pride for how far we’ve come and with determination for how far there is to go.”
- “I can see your pride in our community. I want you to know how proud the community is of you.”
- “Heard back from the ancestors. They are proud of you.”
- “You move the story of your ancestors, of your family and of yourself into a future full of promise. So proud of you!”
- “You are the Black excellence the ancestors dreamed of. Wishing you the happiest Kwanzaa.”
- “Your Black brilliance, power and beauty are on full display every day, but especially at Kwanzaa.”
Helpful Tip: Think about how important your recipient’s cultural identity is to them and how Black brotherhood and sisterhood supports and sustains them emotionally in this moment of uncertainty and unrest. Go for warm and empathetic messages that are meaningful.
Finally, take inspiration from these Kwanzaa messages from Hallmark writers.
The Lord made us a family.
Miles can’t keep us apart.
Time can’t make us forget.
Troubles can’t outlast
our hope and our pride.
We go on praying.
We go on dreaming.
We go on living
with peace and courage
in our hearts.
And we make this world
a better home for
all generations to come.
May your Kwanzaa be soul food on your celebration plate.
May your karamu be seasoned with faith and love.
And may the recipes for harmony and peace,
passed down through all the generations,
provide strength and unity
as you savor this holiday of devotion.
We are strong people.
Touching all the Earth,
blessing every nation,
shining in all God’s hues.
We are beautiful Black people.