“It’s an 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 she can tell Kwanzaa is coming when her 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 her African-American heritage in a European city where she feels disconnected from her culture.
An attractive feature of Kwanzaa for Kite are taper candles in the Pan-African colors of green, black and red. He admits that last year he spent two green ones and used them as drumsticks on his mother’s miniature Djembe drum.
“The candles didn’t survive,” Kite said with a smile.
Sundiata Sharif, 12, of Livingston, NJ, said she likes how Kwanzaa gives her a chance to reflect on herself and where her family comes from. “It brings out my inner roots,” she said. For the Faraa Majorie sisters and Folayan Jendayi-Lacey, who lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, on the last day of Kwanzaa, Imani is the most delicious. Her mother cooks recipes from the cookbook, Ethnic Vegetarian: Traditional and modern recipes from Africa, America and the Caribbean, for the crescendo of the festivities, the Karamu party. They taste their way through many of America’s common dishes with African roots, such as cornbread, slaws, and mac and cheese. “Once we even had chocolate cake,” said 8-year-old Faraa, beaming.