KWANZAA begins Saturday and lasts for seven consecutive days.

Each night, observers light a candle on a wooden candleholder called a kinara. (Find these at black-oriented bookstores.)

Kwanzaa's official colors are black, red and green. Black stands for the people, red represents the struggle and green is for hope. Each candle in the kinara represents a different Kwanzaa principle, such as umoja, which is Swahilli for unity and is the first principle recognized.

Light a black candle to correspond with that. (For details about which candle goes with what color, log onto

Small gifts are typically given to children but usually include books and culturally relevant items. (Don't do as I once did and show up with a black Barbie doll.)

The commemoration concludes with a lively feast in a room decorated with an African table covering and objects. Make sure to have a unity cup for sharing libations.

- Jenice Armstrong