All across the globe, different peoples celebrate holidays in their own unique ways for a variety of special reasons. Taking the time to learn about holidays in other countries is a great way to open a window to other cultures and bring more joy into the holiday season. Our Holidays Around the World bundle is a perfect way to engage in learning the celebratory moments across our diverse planet. Bring them into your homes and your classrooms!
Winter. Is coming. In Maryland.
Winter is my least favorite season. I become desperately worn out and tired of the endless gray day upon gray day. Here in Maryland, you might be familiar with our special version of “winter”. Little side journey- if you aren’t familiar with winter in Maryland, its a wild ride. When you hear “winter”, it generally conjures up visions of chilly air, frozen patches on sidewalks and maybe even snow. Right?
Sure, we get lots of those things. Then, we also experience days sprinkled in where it is 64 degrees and sunny. On these days, the guy (you know the guy) who is always wearing shorts feels validated. Shorts guy and the year round flip flop folks. Hold on though! Don’t put your down jacket away yet. Why, you might ask? Or, if you are in Maryland then you already know. The “why” is that the NEXT day, it will be 22 degrees and your car battery froze to death during the night. Boom. Winter in Maryland. Ba dum tss
Winter holidays around the world
We’ve established what the season of winter is like here in Maryland, but what about the winter holidays? Winter offers an abundance of celebrations across faiths and cultures. So, let’s think bigger and go global. Let’s explore the winter holidays observed across the world!
Hanukkah starts off our tour of holidays around the world. This 8 day celebration of the Jewish faith falls annually in mid- December. Also called the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah solidifies the foundations of Judaism and commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Each day, during the festival, a candle is lit on the traditional menorah. There are also many popular non-religious traditions associated with Hanukkah including festive meals, songs, games, and gifts to children. Try our Hanukkah holiday bundle for resources to learn about the holiday and engage in related activities.
Kwanzaa was established in 1966 by Maulana Ron Karenga, a California State University professor of Africana studies. The name is derived from Swahili, but is not itself a Swahili name. The focus of the celebration is on the seven principles of Kwanzaa:
- Collective Responsbility
- Cooperative Economics
During Kwanzaa (December 26- January 1), families come together to celebrate one another, honor their ancestors and affirm African family and social values. Our Kwanzaa learning bundle offers a variety of focused objectives and activities to learn and celebrate the joy of Kwanzaa.
Ringing in the New Year
In many countries, the new year begins at the stroke of midnight on December 31, harkening the entre of the next calendar year. Many cultures celebrate this event with drinking, dancing, and fireworks. Some people attend religious services earlier in the evening or services that last through the midnight tolling of the bell. The Line Islands and Tonga in the Pacific Ocean are the first to welcome the new year.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is a 15 day Chinese festival in China and in Chinese communities across the world. The celebration date follows the phases of the new moon, so the exact start date begins somewhere between January 21 and February 20. The celebration has unclear origins, much of which are based on ancient legend and lore. However, much like the new year celebrations of other cultures, Chinese New Year celebrates family, the honoring of ancestors and the ushering out of the old and in with the new. Gifts are exchanged, festivities and parades are celebrated in the streets.
Holidays around the world with the kids
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any holidays that exclude children. Most holidays center around faith and family, which all include kids. Family traditions generally include the children within the family and community. That being said, holidays such as New Years Eve are often hard for parents with small kids to celebrate. I mean, if we let our kids stay up til midnight that means we have to stay up til midnight and I think most parents would agree, sleep is the currency of the gods. Truth be told, I will most likely be asleep at midnight on New Years Eve. I am old and I am tired. I like having a nice dinner and waking up to a fresh year. Some countries have holidays that are specifically designed to focus on the celebration of children.
- St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated in Sweden and some parts of Finland that are English speaking on December 13. St. Lucia was an early Swedish Christian martyr who was killed by the Romans in 304 CE for her faith. Towns select their St. Lucia each year and young girls dressed in white parade behind her.
- Hinamatsuri is a 1,000 year old Japanese celebration centered around girls. Within family units and the larger local communities, prayers for the health and happiness of girls are offered up. Households with young girls in them set up a display of dolls that receive offerings of food and drink such as sticky rice and cake.
New Year, new all around
On that note, we’ll dive into some resolutions and new year plans for personal and mental wellness in the next couple of week. Make sure that you stay tuned for that. In the comments section, drop a line and let us know what you are starting to think about for the new year. Do you have any big plans, small plans, goals and aspirations? We’d love to hear where your head is at for 2023 and how we can provide you with the best resources to make those goals reality for you and your families.
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.