WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF)

Monday marks the first day of Kwanzaa!

This is a week-long celebration that runs till Jan. 1.

The holiday involves gathering with family, eating and dancing and focusing on community, culture and family.

It is not a religious holiday, and it does not compete with, or take away from Christmas.

It is seven days that represent seven principles, unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

“It’s a cultural celebration, but it isn’t necessarily one exclusive to one culture. I think it’s easier to say things that Kwanzaa isn’t like you know it’s not black Christmas, it’s not a replacement for Christmas. It’s not an event just for black people, it’s not this celebration or holiday that originated in Africa, it’s not. It’s one of those things that’s American made, and it’s a celebration of humanity almost.”

Ron Scott Jr. – Director of Cultural Diversity at the Wheeling YWCA

He says people celebrating Kwanzaa sometimes choose to give gifts to loved ones, with each perhaps signifying the principle of the day.