Kwanzaa festivities to enjoy in Portland

The annual African American and pan-African celebration runs Dec. 26-Jan.1, culminating with Karamu, a communal feast.

An above table view shows people passing around dishes during a traditional Kwanzaa feast.

Kwanzaa traditions include lighting the seven candles of the kinara and the Karamu feast.

Photo by Askar Abayev

Kwanzaa is a secular holiday that was founded in 1966, when Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, wanted to come up with a way to bring the African American and pan-African communities together.

Today, the tradition rooted in various “first fruit” harvest celebrations of cultures across Africa — including the Zulu and Ashanti peoples — is celebrated from Dec. 26-Jan. 1, culminating in the Karamu feast.

Here are some Kwanzaa events to enjoy around Portland.

Kwanzaa Community Fundraiser and Drag Show | Wed., Dec. 27 | 6-11:30 p.m. | CC Slaughters Nightclub and Lounge, 219 NW Davis St, Portland | $0-$10 | Celebrate the principle of self-determination (kujichagulia) with a night of empowering entertainment, with proceeds benefiting Brown Hope’s Black Resilience Fund.

Kwanzaa Celebration | Thurs., Dec. 28 | 6-8 p.m. | Alder Commons, 4212 NE Prescott St., Portland | Free | Enjoy each other’s company with crafts, music, dancing, and storytelling.

2023 Joyous Kwanzaa Celebration | Fri., Dec. 29 | 5-8 p.m. | Tualatin Hills Athletic Center, 50 NW 158th Ave., Beaverton | Free | The Beaverton Black Parent Union invites you to bring family and friends to this celebration of heritage, food, and unity.

Rhythms of Kwanzaa | Sat., Dec. 30 | 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. | 1420 NE Killingsworth St., Portland | Free | Children’s entertainer and literacy advocate Nikki Brown Clown will host this event featuring local vendors.

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