Holiday Celebrations and Shows

DuSable Museum Kwanzaa Celebration 2018

The DuSable Museum of African American History is partnering with the Bolozi Wazee Council of Elders to host their annual Kwanzaa Celebration. Make a commitment to keep the tradition of Kwanzaa alive and to unity year-round—Kwanzaa’s foundational principle—by joining in celebration for the first two days (Umoja and Kujichagulia) of the seven day celebration. This year’s celebration will feature the Thunder Sky Drummers, Najwa Dance Corps, Maggie Brown, Amen Rah and many others, along with the 2018 Hannibal Afrik Cultural Excellence Awardees, Darlene Blackburn and Harold Lucas. Registration is required for this event, but admission is FREE.

The seven-day Kwanzaa celebration, beginning each year the day after Christmas, was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga.  Rooted in Swahili tradition, it serves as a way for people of African descent to reflect on their culture and values, with an emphasis on family and community. Each of the seven days represents a principle for building, sustaining and flourishing community.

1st Day of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity) pronounced oo-moe-jah represents a commitment to the ideal of togetherness. Without unity, neither family nor community can survive. On this day, family members should take a close look at their interpersonal relationships; strive for and maintain unity in the family, community and race; establish effective channels of communication; and hold open discussions about family problems and solutions that will aid in promoting family unity.

2nd Day of Kwanzaa: Kujichagulia (Self-determination) pronounced coo-gee-cha-goo-lee-ah represents the time to define, name, create, and speak for ourselves, instead of letting others do so for us. It is a time to commit to building our lives for our interests. If we are to achieve our goals, we must take on the responsibility necessary to achieve them, individually, for self-determination is the essence of freedom.

3rd Day of Kwanzaa: Ujima (Collective work and responsibility) pronounced oo-gee-mah represents family and community sharing a collective responsibility for achievements and victories as well as failures. Each family member’s responsibility to the family should include defining goals and recognizing achievements. The same is true for each individual member of the community.

4th Day of Kwanzaa: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) pronounced oo-jah-mah represents the concept of “African Communal Living,” where wealth and resources are shared. Work ethic and wealth are established through building and maintaining our neighborhoods, stores and businesses. We profit as we build our economic strength and become able to give back to our community.

5th Day of Kwanzaa: Nia (Purpose) pronounced nee-ah represents a time to review our purpose, reflect on our expectations for life, discuss our desires and hopes with family and friends, and get involved with activities that strengthen us as a people. Determining and identifying the purpose behind all projects will eventually result in positive achievements for both family and community.

6th Day of Kwanzaa: Kuumba (Creativity) pronounced koo-m-bah represents the encouragement of creativity. By developing the creative power within us as individuals, we promote the importance of Kuumba. Through poetry, songfests, dance exhibitions and a variety of other creative efforts, we make our families and our communities more beautiful than when we inherited them.

7th Day of Kwanzaa – Imani (Faith) pronounced e-mahn-e, this final day is celebrated with a Feast of Faith and represents our belief in ourselves, both as individuals and as a whole. It requires commitment. We must believe within our hearts that in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and through our faith, we can gain the ability and recognize our right to control our own destiny. (Nicole Bond and Dolores E. Anderson)

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Please use the Harold Washington Wing entrance. December 26 and 27, noon–2:30pm. Free. For registration, (773) 947-0600 or

Light Up Hyde Park!

Hanukkah came extra early this year, starting this past Sunday, but there are still opportunities to celebrate the Festival of Lights on the South Side. If you’re looking for something a little brighter than your personal menorah, join the University of Chicago’s Chabad for a giant menorah lighting. The event will also including a performance by Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School’s choir and a fire show by UofC’s circus group, Le Vorris and Vox. Free donuts, gelt, and hot chocolate will be served. (Mari Cohen)

Kimbark Plaza, 1230 E. 53rd St. Thursday, December 6, 5pm–6pm. Free.

Chicago Food Policy Action Council & Urban Stewards Action Network Holiday Party

Join urban farmers, stewards, and advocates at one of the South Side’s coziest cafés for an evening celebrating the year behind and the arriving winter. A period of rest is long overdue for this group of organizers and green thumbs, who have kept busy organizing to see the Good Food Purchasing Policy (a policy to incentivize city agencies and the school district to purchase local, fair labor, and ethically raised food) passed by both the city and the state. Other wins include the passage of a bill supporting urban agriculture and the launch of the Urban Stewards Action Network’s Food Fun(d)ing Fridays, a grassroots fundraising event series to support farmers and stewards in Black and brown communities. At the holiday party, meet some of the people behind these new initiatives and ring in the holiday season over drinks and snacks. (Emeline Posner)

La Catrina Cafe, 1011 W. 18th St. Wednesday, December 19, 6pm–8pm. Free.

St. Sabina Christmas Celebration, Midnight Mass and Annual Christmas Feast for the Homeless and Elderly

Experiencing the Christmas Eve service with the Faith Community of St. Sabina is a night not soon forgotten. Christmas carols start fifteen minutes before the 10pm mass, which begins with a pre-service pageant and light show. And if you’re wondering why the midnight mass begins at 10pm, well, you’ve never been to a St. Sabina service. This spectacular and festive gathering breathes new meaning into what so many believe to be the holiest night of the year.

Come back Christmas Day afternoon, in support or for support, at the annual Christmas Feast for the homeless and elderly, next door in Bethune Hall. From noon to 2pm  home-cooked Christmas meals are prepared with love and served free of charge. Transportation is provided to and from some shelters. Donations of food and resources are being accepted now to make this year’s feast possible. Contact the church office if you’d like to help or be helped: (773) 483-4300. (Nicole Bond)

St. Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Pl. Christmas Celebration and Midnight Mass, Monday, December 24, Christmas carols begin at 9:45pm, service begins 10pm. Christmas Day Feast, Tuesday, December 25, noon–2pm. (773) 483-4300.

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The Buttcracker: A Nutcracker Burlesque

If the name of the show itself isn’t enough to entice you, consider that The Buttcracker is billed as a “sexy, alternative spin on the holiday classic,” featuring elements of burlesque, sword dancing, fire spinning, and more. The show loosely follows Clara (played by Squeaky Bubbles) and her Buttcracker (Faye Laverte) as they leave a boring holiday party on the search for adventure. Now in its third year, The Buttcracker makes its first appearance on the (Near) South Side at Reggies Rock Club. (Adam Przybyl)

Reggies Rock Club, 2105 S State St. Wednesdays, December 5, 12, 19, and 26, 7pm. $25 general admission, $30 at door, $40 VIP front row seating. 21+. (312) 949-0120.

Blues & Sones: Crosscultural Concert with Billy Branch at the DuSable Museum

The Chicago blues and son mexicano (Mexican son, a type of Mexican folk music) might seem like two radically different musical genres, but they share roots in African rhythms and musical traditions brought to the Americas by African slaves. Yet while son mexicano developed in the context of Baroque Spanish music and indigenous influences, the blues are more heavily based in spirituals and call-and-response patterns, with Chicago’s take on them featuring electric guitars and harmonicas. This Thursday, these genres will share a space at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Washington Park as the Chicago-based, Grammy-nominated Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues join the acclaimed Sones of México for a “crosscultural concert” organized by DuSable, the Chicago History Museum, and the National Museum of Mexican Art. (Adam Przybyl)

DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E 56th Pl. Thursday, December 6, 7–9pm. Free. (877) 387-2251.

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