Kwaanza revelers celebrate with seven family gatherings where families light kinaaras, or seven-candle candelabras, while celebrating African culture and discussing the Nguzo Saba, or seven principles. Kwaanza also includes a feast and gift giving and runs from December 26 through January 1.
Kwaanza originated in 1966 as a way for African Americans to celebrate their heritage and traditional African culture. Each of the festival's seven days corresponds to one of seven principles. These principles include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility. Other principles include economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
Each evening, families gather for drumming, story reading and traditional African foods, and a child lights one of the seven candles on the kinaara that correspond to one of the principles. The colors of the candles correspond to the colors of the African flag. Each celebration day has its own tangible object to correspond with one of the principles.
Kwanzaa's largest celebration occurs on December 31 when families meet for a huge feast known as a Karamu that includes each family member drinking from a unity cup. After each child and adult has had a sip, the family's elder pours out the end of the cup in each of the cardinal directions in remembrance of the family's ancestors.