Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education

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An Inclusive Guide to Students’ Winter Holidays

December 17, 2021 9:38 AM | Anonymous

As you know, valuing ALL of your students’ cultures helps kids and teens connect to their classrooms and school. Celebrations are a big deal in our social-emotional lives!

Here are five holidays celebrated by many U.S. families that fall in or around winter break (information from Wikipedia):

Diwali: Autumn; in 2021, November 2-6

  • A five-day festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists that symbolizes the victories of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.
  • Highlights include food, gifts, sweets, flowers, and candles/sparklers.

Hanukkah: Winter; in 2021, November 28-December 6

  • An eight-day festival of lights celebrated by Jewish families that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and the miracle of one night’s wick burning for eight nights.
  • Highlights include food, songs, lighting the menorah, games, and gifts.

Winter Solstice (example: Shaloko ceremony of the Zuni): December 21 or 22

  • Religious ceremonies or community celebrations marking the shortest day of the year are practiced by many indigenous tribes to celebrate deities, honor good fortune, and share stories.
  • Highlights include dances, storytelling, and sharing traditions with young people.

Christmas: December 25

  • A religious celebration of the birth of Jesus for Christian families, and a secular celebration of Santa Claus and gifting for billions of people around the world.
  • Highlights include food, songs, masses, Christmas trees, and gifts.

Kwanzaa: December 26-January 1

  • A celebration of African-American culture echoing African harvest traditions and celebrating the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
  • Highlights include decorations of art, fabric and fruits; celebrations and symbols; readings; candle lightings, and a feast of faith.

Which holidays do your students celebrate? Let us know on Twitter (follow us and tag @MGForumSTW in your tweet!).

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