How to Have Fun Teaching Your Children About The Different Holidays
Kids Konnect introduces holidays your family may not celebrate because when children learn about other cultures, it helps them to develop empathy and understanding for other people and ideas.
This Thanksgiving, we revealed why we think it’s important you share holidays you don’t celebrate with your children. We talked about how holidays teach similarities, how they create understanding and how they unite people. We also presented a list of suitable preschool books that you can use to teach at home.
But, how can you teach your child about other holidays and cultures when they’re at home? Kids Konnect recommends these tips:
Learn about the different holidays yourself
You might find it intimidating teaching your child something new. You may not be confident enough to properly explain the differences, and as we know, children love to ask tricky questions.
The best thing to do is prepare before you start. It’s time to read up on the different holidays. Why are they celebrated? What’s their historical origin? Is there a religious, commercial or economic element?
Here’s a quick look at some of the biggest holidays celebrated this holiday season:
Takes place on the 25th December, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is about giving gifts and supporting your local community. However, Christmas is also a perfect example of how different cultures have different traditions even when celebrating the same holiday. For example, did you know the Germans give their gifts on Christmas Eve? The Spanish wait until the 6th January!
Learn more about Christmas traditions here
The Festival of Lights is a Jewish celebration of the Maccabees and their fight for freedom. It is an 8 day-and-night festival that usually takes place in December. The holiday commemorates the second rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Macabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed by lighting the menorah, a candelabrum with 9 branches. Each night, one more candle is lit with the shamash (the unique candle, often in the centre of the menorah), until all nine candles are lit on the final night.
Learn more about Hanukkah here
A religious festival often celebrated in Latin America and parts of the United States between the 12/16-12/24. The festival commemorates the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Every evening during Las Posadas, a child dressed as an Angel leads a procession through the streets of a town, reenacting the journey. The procession stops at certain houses and they are refused lodging. At each stop, passages of scripture are read and carols are sung.
Learn more about Las Posadas here
Kwanzaa is observed for 7 days from December 26 through January 1. It’s a celebration of African roots and is celebrated by people of all faith backgrounds. Kwanzaa isn’t tied to any religion and is free to be celebrated by all. Kwanzaa’s concepts and symbols derive from traditions and practices found throughout Africa. There are seven candles (all red, black and green) each representing 7 principles that inspire Black people to be united, self-determined, accountable for their communities, financially invested in Black-owned businesses, purposeful in their lives, creative and full of faith. At the end of the 7 days, there is a big feast.
Learn more about Kwanzaa here
A 5-day Festival of Lights traditionally taking place in November (the date changes every year), Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. Each religion celebrates Diwali for different reasons. Hindus celebrate the return of deities Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after their 14-year exile, and the day Mother Goddess Durga defeated the demon Mahisha. Sikhs celebrate the release of sixth guru Hargobind Singh from prison in 1619. And, Jains celebrate the moment the founder of Jains, Lord Mahavira reached nirvana.
Learn more about Diwali here.
Don’t forget Ramadan. Observed by Muslim’s worldwide, this holiday commemorates Muhammad’s first revelation and is one fo the Five Pillars of Islam. It culminates with Eid, a holiday that marks the end of their fasting.
Teach Using Play-Based Learning
As you know, Kids Konnect loves play-based learning so we would recommend you use arts & crafts or dance classes to engage your child and teach them about the other holidays.
Why not make a menorah or a Kwanzaa wreath? Or learn some traditional Indian dance steps? While making the craft or following the choreography, take little breaks to explain the why people celebrate the holiday and what it means to the people who celebrate it.
Take a Day Trip
You can always visit a museum or visit a local celebration. You can often find lots of exciting events celebrating other cultures happening in your neighborhood. Just check online to see if there are any events happening next to you.
For 2020, please follow any Covid-19 regulations in your area, and stay safe.
Read Them a Multicultural Children's Book
Story time is a great moment to share stories and promote tolerance and understanding of different cultures.
There are some great books that put modern twists on the old stories. For example, Deborah Chocolate’s My First Kwanzaa which shows how a family celebrates their African heritage with food, candles and their extended family.
You can see more of our book suggestions here.
Watch YouTube Videos
Wait, wait, wait. We know we all want children to have less screen time, but YouTube is an excellent tool to visually teach children about the different holidays. They can learn a Diwali dance routine on YouTube, or watch cute explainer videos that are fun bitesize chunks of information. Sometimes, even celebrities get involved, like this video from The Big Bang Theory’s Malim Balik.
Learn Throughout the Year
Learning about other cultures isn’t just a holiday season activity. You can keep searching out and teaching your child in the middle of summer too. There are so many holidays throughout the year that we haven’t even touched on. How about Chinese New Year? Or Semana Santa, the week long Easter tradition in Latin America? There’s so much to learn and explore!
Enjoy Learning With Your Child
Many adults have not had the opportunity to learn about other cultures and holidays when they were younger. If this is you, enjoy this opportunity to grow in understanding with your child. Sharing diversity of opinion and cultures will help raise a child with healthy emotions and social connections.
Parents and preschool teachers play a major role in helping children learn to be culturally sensitive by explaining about the different holiday celebrations taking place throughout the holiday season.
Kids Konnect preschools aim to foster cultural curiosity and help children become intellectually stimulated and engaged in learning. If you want to learn more, why not book a quick tour of one of our preschools?