family fun

Celebrating Holidays From Other Cultures

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The holiday season is a wonderful time of year to introduce new cultures and traditions to your children. Children enjoy learning about holiday celebrations from around the world!   Here are a few ideas to help you teach your children more about how other families celebrate during this time of the year.

1. Visit the library. To learn about holiday celebrations in different cultures, we began by going to the library. In the Juvenile section, you can find a variety of fiction and nonfiction books to guide you in your family's discussion of new holidays. At our library, we were able to check out a variety of books relating to Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa.

Holiday books from the library to teach children about other cultures

2. Share holiday stories. We celebrate Christmas and Chanukah in our family, so this was a great way to teach my children more about these holidays. We were not so familiar with Kwanzaa, so this introduced us to a new culture and set of traditions. A great way to increase understanding is to learn new vocabulary. Here were some terms children learned while we read:

  • Shamash - the tall, center candle in a menorah. It is used to light the other eight candles on Chanukah
  • Nativitya picture, carving, or model representing Jesus Christ's birth
  • Nguzo saba - seven princples of Kwanzaa, including umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (co-operative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity), and imani (faith)

3. Create holiday artwork. Now that your children have learned the stories of the holidays and acquired vocabulary to describe the different traditions, get creative! A quick Pinterest search for different holiday craft ideas, and you will be ready to assist your children in exploring their creative side.

Menorah - Holiday art work can introduce kids to new cultures and traditions

4. Learn the holiday songs, dances, and prayers of other cultures. Many holiday ceremonies have special songs, some of which are in other languages, that are part of the cultural rituals. You can try searching YouTube to learn the songs, dances, and prayers to celebrate different holidays. Share these with your children, and maybe they would like to sing and dance, too!

Making music to celebrate other cultures

5. Enhance your traditions. Every family has holiday traditions specific to their culture and upbringing. In my family, we have always opened Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve after a big family feast. A tradition my husband and I choose to celebrate every few years is the "Feast of the Seven Fish". It is a special Italian way to celebrate Christmas Eve by serving seven different fish and shellfish dishes.

Every family has unique holiday traditions. What are some of your family's holiday traditions?

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Dr. Carrie Wells is a college instructor, blogger, and work-at-home mother to two young children, Lydia (age 5) and Bryce (age 3). Carrie graduated from the University of Florida in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education and in 2002 with a Master’s degree in special education. After teaching children ages 3 – 21 with varying abilities for several years, she completed her Doctorate in special education in 2008 from Nova Southeastern University. In March 2010, Carrie began writing Huppie Mama, a lifestyle blog focusing on family, food, fun, fashion, and fitness.

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