African American Holiday Association


About Us

HISTORY of The African American Holiday Association (AAHA)

The Event that Started a Mission:
Since 1982, community organizer/wholistic practitioner, Ayo Handy Kendi, realized that there needed to be a cultural and spiritual alternative to the overly-commercialized Christmas holiday season, while encouraging the African American community to use this high retail shopping season as a vehicle for self-help and empowerment. Beginning with 25 vendors in 1982, she organized the first "Family Afternoon Bazaar in Washington, D.C.'s downtown Lansburg Center. This event grew in two years to be the Christmas Kwanzaa Bazaar and has continued as the African American Holiday Expo. The Expo has grown steadily over the years, outgrowing several venues, offering an opportunity for an estimated 2,000 merchants, artists, healers and businesses who've offered quality African-centered, merchandise, crafts, health and business services. The African American Holiday Expo, has brought together a combined estimated audience of 75,000 people over the years, and has been recognized as the oldest, east coast celebration of Christmas and Kwanzaa, spawning any number of replicas in the Washington, D.C Metropolitan area and around the Nation.
The Beginning of an Organization:
As the special event grew, it spawned an organization - the African American Holiday Association (AAHA). AAHA was incorporated in 1989, by Handy-Kendi, as an outgrowth of public interest shown in holiday related, quality of life issues and the potential for organizing for social justice using holidays, celebrations and rituals. In 1989, the mission of the event was expanded as a non-profit, 501(c ) (3) membership organization that perpetuates and preserves culture through traditional and non-traditional holidays, celebrations and rituals. The Expo became the annual fundraiser for the non-profit organization.
Co-Creators of New Holidays and Traditions:
AAHA has added to the culture by its’ founder, Ayo Handy-Kendi, being the visionary for  new holiday (wholyday) alternatives: Black Love Day- Feb. 13th (started in 1993), Ancestor Honor Day- May 30th, Unity in Diversity Day, May 1st (both started in 1995) and the Ritual of Reconciliation, a new tradition. Due to it’s community educational outreach, AAHA has further advanced the awareness of Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, D.C. Emancipation Day, Harriet Tubman Day, Women’s History Month, Native American History Month, Grandmother’s Day, World Aids Day, World Asthma Day/Month, International Breath Day, Malcolm X Day, Nelson Mandela Day, and alternatives to Thanksgiving and the 4th of July (4th of U-Lie).