Every year millions of people around the world celebrate special holidays. Some of these holidays are associated with history, or an event that signifies a major turning point for a country. The months of November and December are considered to be the busiest and most important holiday season around the world. These major holidays include Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve. Some of these holidays are religious celebrations; others are to celebrate seasonal events.
Every year families in the United States take time out to celebrate Thanksgiving. This holiday originally was designed as a day to give thanks for a successful harvest season. The first Thanksgiving in the United States took place at Plymouth, and was celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. The purpose of this day was very simple, a meal shared between English colonists and Native Americans that symbolized the peaceful interaction, and the prosperous crop development that united them. Canada also shares this holiday, but it is celebrated on the second Monday of October. The Canadian Thanksgiving is based on cultural traditions introduced by farmers, but the rationale was to give thanks for a fruitful harvest.
December is the second busiest holiday month. This is the month for several holidays that include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve. Christmas is a holiday that has a long history and is celebrated all around the world in a variety of ways. In the United States it is the holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Even through the exact date of Jesus' birth is unknown, this holiday is honored by Christians and many other people around the world. Observance of this holiday is marked with gift giving, religious services, decorations, and family gatherings.
Hanukkah is another popular holiday that is celebrated for eight days. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights which observes the plight of Jews during a period in which they struggled to maintain their rituals and religious beliefs.
Kwanzaa is another important holiday, and is celebrated for seven days starting on December 26th. Unlike the other holidays, Kwanzaa is non-religious and was founded by a professor at California State University in 1966. The holiday is based on seven principles which families celebrate through song, dance, storytelling, and a traditional family meal.
Finally, the end of these holidays is marked by another holiday. New Year's Eve is celebrated all over the world and is observed by all users of the Gregorian and other calendars. The celebration is honored with parades, fireworks, parties and, most importantly, New Year's Resolutions.
Teachers can use the following lesson plans to help students recognize the historical significance of other world holidays.
Holiday Celebrations - Hanukkah Lesson Plans, Kwanzaa Activities, and More:
Christmas Around the World- Students will develop an understanding and appreciation of customs and practices around the world. In this thematic unit students locate and interpret information using research and literature about countries and customs. They also produce a factual book and poem about customs in other countries.
How Do You Celebrate?- In this lesson students will be introduced to the customs of celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa holidays. Students will compare the similarities and differences within each holiday celebration and write an informative paragraph about the holiday celebrations.
Lights of Festivals- This mini unit will focus on the use of lights and candles used in several holiday celebrations. Students will recognize and understand how five different countries use light in holiday celebrations; in addition they will create a poster demonstrating what they have learned.
Moore vs. Livingston: Who Really Wrote 'The Night Before Christmas'- Students will use their debating and persuasive skills to gather evidence about who wrote the famous poem "The Night Before Christmas". They will also work in groups to research and write a persuasive essay presenting evidence.
Why It's Essential- Students will discuss their experiences about their favorite holiday and make connections between that holiday and the seasonal temperature associated with it.