World Holidays A Guide for Children
By Heather Moehn
When I first started teaching, the only holidays and events that I celebrated in my classroom were Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and a few times I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Even though I had a diverse group of students in my class; I never asked the parents what they did on December 25th, I just assumed everyone celebrated the holiday.
As I grew as a teacher and a professional, I realized that I was overlooking the diversity in my classroom and not observing each student’s culture. So, even though I don’t introduce and celebrate each holiday or celebration I at least educate myself on most holidays, celebrations and cultural events throughout the world, and provide picture books to educate other teachers.
Since we have such a diverse group of students in Early Childhood, I think that it is important to cover most holidays that some students might celebrate, including religious holidays that might not represent the Christian way of celebrations.
Although I try not to incorporate the religion aspect of the holidays into my classroom discussion; because my school is not religious based. I do try to incorporate things that the students will understand and can be added to the curriculum. For example; For the Persian New Year, they set-up a table which consist of seven items that start with the letter ‘S,’ each one of these items represent something that the students can relate to, and be brought into the classroom for discussion and maybe even to taste. They are:
- 1. Sabzeh- sprouts
- 2. Seeb- an apple
- 3. Sumac- a sour spice
- 4. Seer- garlic
5. Sohan- a pistachio cookie
6. Senjed- a fruit of the lotus tree
7. Sehk- coins
Make sure you keep the students’ allergies in mind when you introduce to new things.
There are other things on the table too; a mirror, candles, colored eggs, water, and goldfish. Each thing on the table represents something good for the coming year- new life, health, prosperity, and happiness.
Information like this can easily be introduced and discussed in your classroom; it may even be possible to include the parents’ intake on how their family celebrates the holiday. I have also noticed that most holidays celebrate the seasons which can also be incorporated into your curriculum.
I found the celebration Rasksha Bandhan in India very interesting; it is a celebration of brothers and sisters.
You will also find information for Jewish Holidays on my Pinterest page, since being Jewish is not only a religion but also a culture.