It’s fitting the youngest child in the family lights the first candle. Kwanzaa is a young holiday, born in 1966 amidst the Civil Rights Movement. That initial flame flickered brightly and grew stronger with each passing year, and it now shines in homes for seven days every December.
Beginning the day after Christmas, a special candle is lit each evening. One candle, then two and finally seven shining lights become a beacon for celebration and reflection on the Seven Principles.
When that little one lights his candle, the family celebrates the principle of unity, with a love for each other and the entire community. The second evening is full of candlelit reflections on self-determination.
The remaining principles are embraced, and a brilliant flame burns to mark and honor each one: responsibility, work, traditions, creativity and faith. From an individual child to the collective nation, these fundamentals are foundations for lives lovingly shared and well lived.
The light of one candle casts a warm glow on the face of a child. Seven candles illuminate homes and ignite lives with the joy of celebration. When we lay out our feasts for Kwanzaa, we share our food, our homes and our lives with one another.
Just as the child learns to hold the Seven Principles in his heart, we learn to hold each other with the respect and love that makes a community strong. The child lights the first candle, and we all carry that brave fire in our hearts.