“It’s extra Christmas!” Ellington said. “Last year, I got a dragon thing and my brother got a Nerf gun.”
Kite Bernroider, 9, who lives in Vienna, said he can tell Kwanzaa is coming when his mother, Chanda Rule, a jazz vocalist, starts singing a Kwanzaa song. Ms. Rule, who is Black and married to an Austrian, said she wants to expose her son to his African American heritage in a European city where she feels disconnected from her culture.
An appealing Kwanzaa feature for Kite are the tapered candles in the Pan-African colors of green, black and red. He admits to swiping two green ones last year, and using them as drumsticks on his mom’s miniature Djembe drum.
“The candles didn’t survive,” Kite said with a grin.
Sundiata Sharif, 12, of Livingston, N.J., said he relishes how Kwanzaa gives him the opportunity to reflect on himself and about where his family comes from. “It kind of brings out my inner roots,” he said. For sisters Faraa Majorie and Folayan Jendayi-Lacey, who live in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, Kwanzaa’s last day, Imani, is the yummiest. Their mom cooks recipes from the cookbook, Ethnic Vegetarian: Traditional and Modern Recipes from Africa, America, and the Caribbean, for the holiday’s crescendo, the Karamu feast. They taste their way through many of America’s common dishes with African roots such as cornbread, collard greens and mac-and-cheese. “Once we even had chocolate cake,” Faraa, 8, said, beaming.