Holiday Traditions Around the World

by Learning Harbor Resources ™
for K - 2

The holiday season always brings such cheer to people far and wide. The time of year is filled with traditions that harken back to centuries ago. Christmas, Hanukkah, Los Posadas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and St. Lucia are celebrated around the globe with great food and rich traditions and among family and friends.

Every year, at Christmas time, families of Christian faith celebrate in a myriad of sacred and secular ways. The advent calendar marks the days leading up to the birth of Christ, which is celebrated on December 25th. One of the most treasured traditions involves hanging stockings for Santa Claus to fill on Christmas Eve. Many families put up a Christmas tree, often fresh from the farm, and decorate with lights and ornaments passed down year after year. Christmas songs play on the radio and Christmas movies play on the TV. Many might dream of a white Christmas, but only some see it. Thanks to Irving Berlin, we can all sing about it though.

Hanukkah is also called the Festival of Lights and is celebrated in the Jewish faith. Hanukkah lasts for 8 nights and commemorates the oil burned when Jews rededicated the Second Temple of Jerusalem where the Jews rose up against their oppressors. The first day of Hanukkah begins on the 25th day of the month of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. A menorah holds candles; one is lit the first night and another candle is added and lit each successive night. When the menorah is lit, blessings are sung or chanted. The kids look forward to one special gift each night. And there’s plenty of good food: potato lattkes, brisket, and sweet doughnuts are shared with family and friends.

Los Posadas is also celebrated over several nights by those of Mexican or Spanish heritage, and of Catholic or Protestant religions. It is a nine-day festival celebrated from December 16th through December 24th, leading up to Christmas. It is both a native celebration of the Aztec Winter Solstice and a religious celebration of the birth of Christ. Reenactments or Bible plays are staged to retell the story of Mary and Joseph trekking to Bethlehem in search of an inn (a posada) in preparation for the birth of Christ. Each night, in various communities, one family reenacts the pilgrimage and often children dress up as shepherds and angels. They are refused shelter until the pre-designated house is reached. Singing and praying continues indoors. After eating and celebrating, the night ends with a star-shaped piñata.

Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs and Newar Buddhists. It is a 5-day celebration of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, hope over despair,and knowledge over ignorance. The date varies from year to year based on the Hindu calendar, but it is often in late autumn. The first practice during these festive days is  cleaning, renovating, or decorating of the house. People will dress in their finest clothes, candles are lit and prayers, often to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, are spoken. Gifts are exchanged and ‘mithai’ or sweets are shared. Often towns and cities will have celebrations with special performances, parades and gatherings. It’s a festive and happy time
Kwanzaa is known as a celebration of family, community, and culture and is celebrated by the African-American and the Pan-African communities. Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. He had been looking for a way to bring together the community and unite people after the terrible events of the Watts Riots in California. He used traditions from several harvest celebrations among various African tribes, such as the Zulu and Ashanti to form the basis for traditions for Kwanzaa. The name is derived from a Swahili word for ‘first fruits’ or harvest. For that reason, African drumming, a large feast, and storytelling are often part of the celebrations. Seven principles form the core values of the celebration: Unity/Umoja, Self-determination/Kujichagulia, Collective Work and Responsibility/Ujima, Cooperative Economics/Ujamaa, Purpose: Nia, Creativity/Kuumba, and Faith/Imani. Each year, Kwanzaa falls between December 26 and January 1.

St. Lucia’s Day is a festival of lights celebrated in Sweden, Norway, and Swedish-speaking areas of Finland on December 13 in honor of St. Lucia. In the Scandinavian countries, this day marks the beginning of the Christmas season. Usually there is a procession on December 13th with girls dressing in simple white dresses, wearing a lighted wreath on their heads. Boys also take part and wear a simple white outfit. Coffee and baked goods are served to the family by the eldest daughter, all dressed in white. Her white dress, wreath of candles and lingonberry greens represents light and new life in the long, dark nights of winter.
All these festivities carry with them the love of sharing time, faith, and food with family and friends. It is a time to strengthen those ties that bind us together as a community. We celebrate and rejoice in our faith and our time spent with each other. Holiday traditions are passed down, from generation to generation to instill and perpetuate the values of our groups within society. We hold them dear and hope our children’s children will as well. 
And of course who could have a Holiday without the Nutcracker Theme. Students will have fun with the Interactive Self Correcting resource with the Tin Soldiers, Christmas Tree and Ballerina while learning about Adding Doubles and Doubles Plus 1 for Google Classroom™


Thanksgiving Traditions and Fun Classroom Resources

by Learning Harbor™ Resources for Teachers
for Kindergarten

Early Addition Joining Sets Turkey Theme for use with Google Slides™ Google Classroom™

Thanksgiving has some pretty interesting traditions, from Pie Eating Contests to 5K Turkey Trots, this holiday is filled with more than just stuffing! It all started way back with the pilgrims. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, November of 1621, the Wampanoag tribe shared their food and their cooking with the English Pilgrims, who shared their food cache and cooking styles in return. It was a time to celebrate the autumnal harvest. Life was good. Or, well, as good as it can be in 1621. Wild game was definitely on the menu for that first Thanksgiving. We’re unsure whether it was turkey, but that fowl was plentiful near where the festivities took place. There were root vegetables and, surprisingly, a fair amount of fish and fruit, such as shellfish and berries. Although there could have been a turnip or two, there were definitely no potatoes. They didn’t become a sustainable crop in the new colonies until much later. And as for that pumpkin pie, that came later. With no butter, wheat flour, or even an oven, pie was out of the question.

Today we know the menu must-haves: turkey, potatoes and pie. These are staples among Thanksgiving fare. They grace the table every fourth Thursday in November. Seventeenth-century citizens kept up the custom; George Washington named a November 26 as a day of thanks. In 1864, Lincoln made Thanksgiving a Federal Holiday the last Thursday in November. In 1939, there was a fair amount of scuttlebutt over which Thursday was the Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving. Finally in 1941, FDR made the fourth Thursday in November a National Holiday. The day has accumulated a fair amount of other traditions since then.

These days, Thanksgiving typically involves travel. In fact, air travel for Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year for most airlines and airports. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is projected to see 2.88 million people take to the skies in 2017. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will also super busy. Plane, train, or automobile, we take to the air, rails, highways in order to get the friends and relatives in time for the feast! There are other thanksgiving traditions that stem from the feast. It’s the cracking of the wishbone. Every turkey has a wishbone. Tradition has it that the wishbone is removed, dried and then wished on. Whoever gains the larger piece of the wishbone will see their wish come true so says the legend. This cracking or snapping of the wishbone, in general, goes back to ancient Roman times.

In more recent times, one tradition has proven to be most beneficial to the turkey! It’s the Official Presidential Pardoning of the Turkey. Reagan treats his gift of a turkey to a long and happy life on a farm. The first President Bush continued the legacy, and so on. But the eating (or not eating!) of the turkey isn’t the only activity on the actual holiday of Thanksgiving. Many people will donate their time to soup kitchens or other non-profits in order to give back and give thanks. Some run in road races, having raised funds for others. While still others work the holiday, in order to let coworkers spend time with their family. One set of coworkers have been working the holiday for almost 100 years. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is hosted by Macy’s employees who march through the streets of NYC in order to bring floats and fun down to Macy’s landmark store at Herald Square. Decade after decade, colorful balloons have flown past the skyscrapers as the people line the streets for a glimpse of the parade. Floats and Broadway show numbers traipse down the avenues until they meet Macy’s Herald Square to applause and cheers. Many watch from home on television. The spectacle is grand and fun as Santa Claus makes his way down the parade route at the very end.

Thanksgiving traditions give us the perfect opportunity to share our pleasures and our gratitude with family and friends. We gather, we feast, we play, and we applaud the beginning of winter and all its glorious festivities are announced. But let us not forget the preamble, the day of giving thanks for all we have and all we can share.

In the classroom, we teach young students to sing songs about turkeys and pilgrims.  Turkeys are very popular in classrooms in November, and students love playing learning games that include turkeys and pilgrims.  Here are two products one for kindergarten students and one for first and second graders to help celebrate learning during the Thanksgiving season.

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