About 2 million people in the United States and 40 million globally Monday marked the start of Kwanzaa, a weeklong celebration of African-American culture.
Kwanzaa, celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, a black studies professor at California State University-Long Beach, to instill pride in African-Americans and connect them to their roots.
"This is a cultural celebration that allows people to reclaim their greatness and re-establish their identity," Jonathan Anderson, a postal worker from Hollywood, Fla., told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Chiketia Ponder, park manager at Bass Park in Fort Lauderdale, said she didn't celebrate Kwanzaa growing up, but began participating seven years ago in the park's Kwanzaa event.
Candles are lit on each of the seven nights to represent the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Families typically gather or participate in activities tied to the day's theme.
"It's not about giving gifts, it's about family," Ponder said about the reasons behind the celebration.
Ponder and Anderson told the Fort Lauderdale newspaper said they've noticed an increase in interest throughout the years.