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During Kwanzaa candles are placed in a special candleholder called the Kinara. There are seven candles (Mishumaa Saba) used, each representing one of the Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa.

The colors of the candles are red, green, and black which are the colors of the Bendera (or African Flag). The Mishumaa Saba consists of a single black candle, 3 red and 3 green candles.

When putting the candles in the Kinara, the 3 red candles are placed on the left side. The 3 green candles are placed on the right. The single black candle is placed in the center and is the candle which will be lit first. On each day of Kwanzaa a new candle will be lit as a symbol of the Kwanzaa Nguzo or principle of that day. The candles will be lit in alternating colors. First the black candle is lit, then the farthest left red candle, then the farthest right green candle, then the next red, then next green, then the last red, and then the final green.

The honor of lighting the candles depends on the family itself. As there are no rules as to who lights the candles, many families give the honor to the youngest child. Some give it to the eldest family member. And others share the duties, with a different family member lighting the candles each night.

Click Next for Days of Kwanzaa