Teaching Children about International Holidays: A Festive Journey in November and December
As the holiday season approaches, it’s a fantastic time to teach children about the diverse cultures and traditions celebrated around the world. November and December are filled with international holidays that offer excellent opportunities for kids to learn about different customs, values, and ways of celebrating. Exploring these global festivities not only broadens their horizons but also encourages respect for diversity. In this article, we’ll delve into several international holidays celebrated during these months that are ideal for teaching children about the world.
Diwali (Festival of Lights)
Diwali, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, is one of the most significant festivals in India and various other countries. The festival represents the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Children can learn about the colorful decorations, lighting of oil lamps, exchanging of gifts, and the delicious sweets made during Diwali. It’s a perfect opportunity to teach them about the importance of family, the triumph of good deeds, and the value of spreading joy.
Thanksgiving (United States and Canada)
Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated holiday in the United States and Canada, but its origins date back to early settlers in North America. This holiday provides an excellent chance to teach children about gratitude, the importance of sharing a meal with loved ones, and the history of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Engaging in crafts like making handprint turkeys or creating a gratitude tree can be fun activities to enhance their understanding.
Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)
Hanukkah, celebrated by Jewish communities, is a festival of dedication and light. Children can learn about the menorah, the eight nights of lighting candles, playing the dreidel game, and indulging in delicious latkes and sufganiyot. This holiday is an excellent opportunity to discuss religious freedom and the importance of preserving cultural traditions.
St. Nicholas Day (Europe)
St. Nicholas Day, celebrated in various European countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, is a festive holiday dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Children place their shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with gifts, candies, and small toys. This is a fantastic holiday to teach children about kindness, generosity, and the spirit of giving.
Christmas is celebrated in numerous countries worldwide, each with its own unique traditions and customs. Teaching children about the birth of Jesus, the significance of the nativity scene, and the act of gift-giving helps them understand the diversity of Christmas celebrations. You can also explore the multicultural aspects of Christmas, like the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas, the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, or the Swedish celebration of Saint Lucia’s Day.
Kwanzaa (United States and Beyond)
Kwanzaa is a relatively modern holiday that celebrates African heritage and culture. It lasts for seven days and emphasizes principles like unity, self-determination, and creativity. Teach children about the lighting of the kinara, making colorful African-inspired crafts, and discussing the significance of these principles in their own lives.
New Year’s Eve (Global)
New Year’s Eve is celebrated worldwide, making it an ideal occasion to teach children about different cultures’ customs and traditions. Explore the fireworks in Sydney, the bells of Scotland, the grape-eating ritual in Spain, or the “First Footing” tradition in parts of the UK. Discussing various New Year’s resolutions and how they differ across cultures can be a fun and educational activity.
Bodhi Day (Japan)
Bodhi Day is celebrated by Buddhists on December 8th, commemorating the day when Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Teach children about meditation, the importance of mindfulness, and the Buddhist path to enlightenment. Engaging in simple meditation exercises or creating calming Zen gardens can be educational and enjoyable.
Eid al-Mawlid (Islam)
Eid al-Mawlid, also known as the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, is celebrated by Muslims worldwide. This holiday offers an opportunity to teach children about the life and teachings of the Prophet, acts of charity, and the significance of family gatherings. Children can also learn about the various sweet treats prepared during Eid, such as baklava or ma’amoul.
Introducing children to international holidays celebrated in November and December is an excellent way to promote cultural awareness, diversity, and understanding. These festivities provide opportunities to teach them about the values, traditions, and customs of people from around the world. By exploring and participating in these celebrations, children can not only expand their knowledge but also develop a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of cultures that make up our global community. So, this holiday season, embark on a festive journey to educate your children about the world and inspire a sense of unity and respect for different traditions.
While we are based in the United States, the Nanny Institute celebrated global cultures. We include global views in our nanny training and certification programs.