Holidays and Celebrations

Why Are There Seven Candles For Kwanzaa?

Seven days and a new candle for each one — that's the years-long tradition of Kwanzaa.

Why Are There Seven Candles For Kwanzaa?

One day following Christmas, the first candle is lit. And for six days after, families ignite red and green candles, culminating with a finale on the seventh day, called Karamu. 

Some Black Americans have lit these flames in celebration of their African heritage for more than 50 years — with each candle representing one of the seven founding principles of "Nguzo Saba." 

The first one is "Umoja," which symbolizes unity. Then there's "Kujichagulia," meaning self-determination. Next, is "Ujima," representing collective work and responsibility — followed by Ujamaa, Nia, Kuuma, and Imani. 

With these seven Swahili words, Maulana Karenga, the founder of Kwanzaa, gave Black Americans a sense of pride in their African roots and created an alternative celebration to Christmas. Kwanzaa is also spelled with an additional "a," so that it also has a symbolic seven letters. 

Holiday decorations, including stockings, are seen at the Vice President's residence

Why Do We Hang Stockings Around Christmas?

Stockings are a Christmas decoration staple. But why do we hang these garments this time of year?