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People celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, giving gifts, and sharing the day with their families. In some parts of Europe, “star singers” go caroling — singing special Christmas songs — as they walk behind a huge star on a pole. Add these books to your classroom library to give your students a chance to learn more about different Christmas traditions can help your students
Diwali (Popular in India)
Diwali, famously known as the festival of lights, is one of the most popular festivals of India. It is celebrated by people of all religions with full enthusiasm and fervor. Diwali is usually celebrated in October or November every year and is a five day Hindu festival. In North India, Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. In South India it is a celebration of the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura.
On this day people decorate their houses with candles, earthen lamps or with electric bulbs. Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth, is thanked on this day and everyone prays for a good year ahead. People wear new clothes and exchange sweets and gifts among themselves. People visit temples and Gurudwaras to offer their prayers to the almighty. The sky is lit with colorful fire crackers on this day.
Eid al-Fitr (Popular worldwide)
At the end of the monthlong fast of Ramadan, many Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast, by giving gifts to each other and giving charity before Eid prayers. Many wear new clothes. According to the New York Times, some large companies such as Armani and Tommy Hilfiger have started marketing to court Muslim shoppers during Ramadan via marketing efforts.
Hanukkah (Popular worldwide)
For eight days each November or December, Jews light a special candleholder called a menorah. They do it to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. On Hanukkah, many Jews also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins. Your students can use this art project to make their own menorah and learn more about the holiday with these 13 Hanukkah books for your classroom.
St. Lucia Day (Mostly in Sweden)
To honor this third-century saint on December 13, many girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.” Your students can learn more about the tradition in this ready-to-print Winter Holidays lesson.
Kwanzaa (Popular in the USA)
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. During this spiritual holiday, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, millions of African Americans dress in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candleholder called a kinara. Help your students delve deeper into the history of the holiday with this ready-to-go Kwanzaa lesson plan and the engaging Kwanzaa books on this list.
New Year (Popular worldwide)
In Ecuador, families dress a straw man in old clothes on December 31. The straw man represents the old year. The family members make a will for the straw man that lists all of their faults. At midnight, they burn the straw man, in hopes that their faults will disappear with him. Check out this New Year’s Eve: Holiday Ideas printable for more quick activity ideas for your students.
Lunar New Year (Popular in many places)
Lunar New Year is observed in many countries that follow lunar calendars, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Malaysia, and more. Lunar New Year can be celebrated in January, February, March, April, September, or November, depending on the lunar calendar, but February and April are the most common times. Lunar New Year traditions vary from culture to culture. Some examples include exchanging red envelopes or silk pouches containing money, setting off fireworks, playing games, eating traditional dishes, cleaning the house, and holding parades with colorful costumes. These Lunar New Year books are excellent classroom resources to learn more about the Chinese traditions associated with the holiday.
Mardi Gras (Popular in New Orleans, USA)
The time of Lent is a solemn one of reflection for Christians, so the Tuesday before Lent begins is a time of merry-making for many people around the world. In New Orleans, people wear costumes and attend huge parades for the festival of Mardi Gras. Brazil’s Carnaval also features parades, costumes, and music. This day is also known as Shrove Tuesday. In England, some towns have pancake contests in which women run a race while flipping a pancake at least three times. For a fun way to introduce the holiday to young learners, try these four Mardi Gras activities for PreK-K classrooms.