Multicultural winter holiday celebrations!

We all want our child to respect other people’s traditions and to cherish her own. Here are some multicultural winter celebrations, with children’s activities.

This past weekend, as my family was trimming the Christmas tree, neighbors down the street were getting ready for Hanukkah while friends across town were fasting for Ramadan. It’s winter holiday time, a time when many North Americans and Europeans end the year gathering with relatives, enjoying great food and giving gifts. It’s also a great time of year to teach kids about the importance of having an open mind about different cultures and traditions. So in our house, even though we only celebrate Christmas, we also acknowledge the other winter holidays with books, crafts and activities.

Here is a list of some of the some of the most well known winter holidays, in Canada. Follow the links for more information and children’s activities. Did I miss any? How do you and your family celebrate the winter holidays? Email me, Kamala Sproule, with your winter holiday story.

 

Christmas

A Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and secular celebration, incorporating many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way. Today, Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and exchange gifts.

Christmas for kids is one of the most special times of the year. Visit this site for many free Christmas activities for kids.

 

Hanukkah

Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah) is the Jewish Festival of Lights and lasts eight days. It usually falls in late November or December. In 2014, Hanukkah will begin on 16th December and finish on 24th December.

EId

Eid al-Fitr, also known as just Eid, is a Muslim holiday which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Celebrations continue for one, two or three days, and people wish each other Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid) or Eid Said (Happy Eid).

East Asian Winter Tradition – Dongzhi / Winter Solstice Festival 冬至

The Dongzhi Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬至; Pinyin: Dōng Zhì; “The Extreme of Winter”) is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term on or around December 22 when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest; i.e., on the first day of the Dongzhi solar term. The origins of this festival can be traced back to the Yin and Yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in. The philosophical significance of this is symbolized by the I Ching hexagram fù (復, “Returning”).

Diwali

Diwali is celebrated by Hindus in India and all around the world in October or November. It is the Hindu New Year and is either a 3-day or 5-day holiday depending on where you come from.

Other winter holiday celebrations

Hanukkah, Ramadan, Christmas and Kwanzaa are the most well-known winter holidays celebrated in this country, but that doesn’t mean they are the only holidays. Other popular winter holidays include:

  • Santa Lucia Day, an ancient Swedish festival during which blond-haired girls wear crowns of green leaves studded with lighted candles.
  • Winter Solstice, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, is also celebrated with festivals, decorations and ancient ceremonies that honor nature.
  • Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany, marks the day the three kings arrived to visit the newborn Christ child. This day is most commonly marked with festivities in Hispanic countries and cultures.

 

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