Kwanzaa begins Monday

(ABC 6 News) – Monday marks the first day of Kwanzaa. A week-long holiday honoring African-American and Pan-African cultures. It’s known as a celebration of unity, creativity, faith, and giving gifts.

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American activist Maulana Karenga created the holiday in 1966. His goal was to give the Black community an alternative to Christmas while also giving the community a chance to celebrate themselves, and their history. People often celebrate with dancing, music, food, and poetry.

During the holiday, a kinara is lit. The name “kinara” actually means “candle holder” in Swahili. Although it looks like a menorah, it’s not one. The seven-branched candle holder is lit each night in honor of Kwanzaa’s different principles: Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

Each candle color has its own meaning. The black candle symbolizes the African people. The red represents their struggle, and the green represents the future and hope. The center candle is lit first with the lighting going from left to right.

Kwanzaa goes until January 1st.