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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama send a special message to everyone celebrating Kwanzaa this year.

“As families and communities across our country come together today to light the Kinara, our family sends our hopes for a prosperous and healthy new year,” the POTUS said in a statement released by the White House.

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December 26 marks the first day of the weeklong celebration of African heritage and African-American culture, which honors seven principles: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday (rather than a religious one ) that was established by Maulana Karenga in 1966. It is observed through January 1st, with each of the seven days dedicated to one principle.

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“Though each principle represents the essence of this holiday, they also represent the shared values that bind us as Americans,” Obama added.

Happy Kwanzaa!

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