A candle sometimes provides more than just light, for example, during Kwanzaa. A California professor created Kwanzaa in 1966.
"He developed it because he was concerned that people needed a connection, particularly African- American people, with their culture and history," explained Yvonne Matthews.
Kwanzaa decorations feature seven symbols, with candles as the most visible. Each night of Kwanzaa, participants light one candle. On the first night, it's a black candle, then a red candle on the second night, a green one on the third night. And then alternate colors after that each night.
Another Kwanzaa symbol is corn, representing children. According to tradition, you should have one ear of corn for each of your children. But, it's not just parents who take part.
"Anyone who celebrates Kwanzaa, any adult, has to have corn on their table whether or not they have biological children," added Matthews. "Because we, as adults, have a responsibility for raising the children of the community."
Other symbols include a mat, a bowl, a candle holder called a kinara, fruit and gifts during the celebration from Dec. 26-Jan. 1.
Columbia's St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, 501 Park, will hold a Kwanzaa celebration Jan. 1 that's open to everyone.