Kwanzaa events will take place across the country, including in Wichita, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the week-long observance.

Kwanzaa, which means "first fruit" in Swahili, highlights African and African-American heritage and culture. Founded in 1966, Kwanzaa is celebrated annually from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

A member of the African American Council of Elders will light the first of seven candles representing the principles of Kwanzaa: unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

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Traditionally, Christians marked December as the season of Advent, paralleling the role of Lent before Easter. Christmas celebrations were to begin at Christmas. That practice has been under siege for generations, with Christmas, it seems, now threatening to engulf Thanksgiving.

laurieofindy / Flickr / Creative Commons

During the past few years, the holiday shopping season has undergone a dramatic transformation.