Kwanzaa is celebrated every year from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 in the United States to honor African heritage in African-American culture.

The week-long celebrations aim to strengthen African heritage and spread a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African.

Kwanzaa was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga, an influential professor of Africana studies at California State University, Long Beach, in 1966 during the Black Freedom Movement. He created this holiday in response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965 to bring African-Americans together as a community.

The festival sees celebrations centered around the seven principles called Nguzo Saba. This includes unity, self-determination, collective work, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Feasts, also known as karamu, are part of the celebrations which also see music, dance, poetry and narratives. Gifts that promote African heritage are also exchanged during the occasion.

Here are a few quotes that reflect the spirit of the festival:

1) The holiday reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture. - Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder, Kwanzaa.

2) The seven principles of Kwanzaa—unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith—teach us that when we come together to strengthen our families and communities and honor the lesson of the past, we can face the future with joy and optimism. - President Bill Clinton.

3) Kwanzaa is a holiday that should be celebrated by everyone, not just the Black community. - Jacqui Lewis, author and preacher.

4) We have religious holidays and we have secular holidays. I see Kwanzaa as an opportunity for African-Americans to reaffirm ourselves if we choose to, a chance to rebuild and renew our focus. I see Kwanzaa as a holiday of the spirit - Jessica Harris, historian.

Kwanzaa is a special celebration that takes place from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. Mario Tama/Getty Images