Locals begin their Kwanzaa celebrations

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It’s a celebration rooted in African culture.

Kwanzaa began on Wednesday. Coming one day after Christmas, Kinston resident Travel Noel says it doesn’t take away from the holiday.

“Christmas is Christmas,” said Noel. “So, I know some people think it takes away from Christmas, but it doesn’t.”

Noel also said you can be of any faith and background and still celebrate Kwanzaa, and that it’s only religious in that it brings people together as a community.

“It’s not just limited to just African Americans,” said Noel. “It’s for everyone.”

The celebration lasts for a week.

Celebrators light a candle each morning allowing it to burn all day before blowing it out at night.

The color of the candles selected is specific.

Black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future.

Lighting the candles also honors Kwanzaa’s seven core principles.

They translate to unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Wednesday’s candle was lit for unity.

“Umojo is unity,” said Noel. “Unity is just what it says. It strives to maintain unity with your family, with your community.”

Noel has celebrated Kwanzaa for years.

This year, she will be celebrating at an event on New Year’s Day to fellowship.

It will be at Faith Walk Studios on 123 Queen Street in Kinston beginning around 2 P.M.

The public is invited to attend.

Organizers are encouraging celebrators to dress in traditional African clothing, but you can come as you are.

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