Recognizing and Respecting Different Cultures During the Winter Holidays

Following on form our last post on sharing holidays you don't celebrate in preschool, I thought I would share more information on the 14, yes 14 different December holidays from around the world.

December offers up only 31 days in which to pack some of the most important days of the entire year. December’s solstice is marked by many of the world’s great religions. Helping your preschooler to recognize and respect many cultures is a special part of good parenting, particularly around winter holidays.

If reading this blog post fills you with good ideas, see if you some family friends in the Bay Area from outside the US or of a different religion and ask if you can get involved with their celebrations, or even throw your own!

shutterstock_338084951.jpgSo Many Days!

Education World experts identified 14 different December holidays or celebrations:

  1. Ramadan (Muslim)
  2. Eid al-Fitr (Muslim)
  3. Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)
  4. Eid'ul-Adha (Muslim)
  5. Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico)
  6. St. Lucia Day (Sweden)
  7. Hanukkah (Jewish)
  8. Christmas Day (Christian)
  9. Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian)
  10. Boxing Day (Australia, Canada, England, Ireland)
  11. Kwanzaa (African American)
  12. Omisoka (Japan)
  13. Yule (Pagan)
  14. Saturnalia (Pagan)

Culture is difficult for preschool kids to grasp. Good parenting means actions, not words. You and your child can make crafts and foods of other cultures for family time. Simply identify the items: “This is a dreidel,” “This is a kinara,” “This is chabbakia; isn't it delicious?” “This is a Yule log.” Your child will signal when she or he is ready for a richer, fuller explanation that includes culture and religion.


Barbara Biles of the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory recommends a simpler approach to good parenting for helping children understand culture. Preschoolers—three and four-year-olds—can classify things and people as “same” and “not same,” so they will notice differences in skin color, eye shape, and hair color and texture.

This awareness is your entry point for helping your child to understand that, just as people have some common traits (teeth, hands, toes) and some differences, what people think and believe can be different, too:

“How your classmate spends time with her family can be different from how we spend time together. How your friend’s family feels better inside, and who they turn to for help feeling better, can differ, too. Those differences are okay. We ask questions to better understand our friends without making them uncomfortable. This is called being polite and showing respect.”

How have you encouraged your child to learn about different cultures during the winter holidays? Leave comments below.

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