In Canada we truly live in a melting pot of all kinds of cultures and religions. Of course you want your little ones to celebrate your own culture, but it’s also a great opportunity to teach them what other religious and cultural holidays have to offer.
Try them all!
So many special winter holidays are celebrated in this country, but just to get you started, here are some of the wonderful celebrations you can teach your kids more about:
- Christmas (Christian)
- Hanukkah (Jewish)
- Kwanzaa (African)
- Eid al-Adha (Muslim)
- Bodhi Day (Buddhist)
- Diwali (Hindu)
Start with the stories
Lots of holidays come from incredible stories that have endured for generations. Whether or not you believe the stories to be real, they’re all interesting in their own ways. Jewish people, for instance, celebrate Hanukkah to commemorate the moment thousands of years ago when the Jewish Maccabees managed to reclaim their temple in Jerusalem from the Syrians who wanted them to worship Greek gods. Bodhi Day is the day on which Buddhists believe Buddha found enlightenment. And Christians celebrate Christmas out of respect for the day it is believed the son of God, Jesus, was born. So many interesting stories worth learning about with your children are out there.
Learn the symbols
Every holiday has specific symbols associated with it. The nativity scene is often seen in Christian homes, while the menorah is an important symbol for Jews. And for the celebration of Kwanzaa, a display of seven symbols, including candles, a unity cup and a mat, is set up to represent the values and concepts of African culture. When you teach your kids these symbols, they can start to recognize them in their day-to-day lives and make associations. Print out some photos of symbols off the internet for them to look at. Or better yet, see if you can find some inexpensive real versions at your local department store.
Have fun with it
Holidays are a time for families to come together and enjoy one another’s company, so it’s easy to have fun while learning about different cultures and traditions. If you’re looking for a game to play, try the traditional Jewish dreidel game. Or if your kids enjoy singing, learn a few Christmas tunes, such as “Away in a Manger” and “Joy to the World.” And to sum up all they’ve learned about different holidays and beliefs in a fun and creative way, encourage them to put on a play showcasing all their new knowledge.
Try some food
Like many special occasions, holidays have come to be connected to different types of food. Some of the foods have very meaningful reasons for being connected to the holiday. For example, Jewish people enjoy fried foods such as latkes to represent the oil that lasted longer than expected. Other foods, such turkey, which is often enjoyed on Christmas Eve, have simply become customary through time. Regardless of the origins, food can have a deep connection to how people celebrate a holiday, so cooking some of these special dishes with your kids will be a great experience.
More on the holidays
Tips for responsible drinking around the holidays
Be ready for the holidays: An early bird’s to-do list
Holiday-themed parties on a budget
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