21 Dec Celebrating Diverse Holidays: A Great Teaching Opportunity
The United States is known by many monikers, but among the most popular is the concept of our nation as a “melting pot,” a place where people of many ethnicities, races, cultures and religions make up the fabric of our society.
It’s true that accepting, welcoming and celebrating diversity is an ideal that is often tested in our country, especially in today’s deeply divided times, but that makes it more important than ever to teach our children the value and beauty that comes from America’s diversity.
Although teaching about inclusion, acceptance and anti-racism is important throughout the year, the winter holiday season provides a rich opportunity to highlight the diversity of the many celebrations that happen during December and January. Just a partial list (and you can google those that are unfamiliar): Christmas, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Pancha Ganapati, Winter Solstice, Las Posadas, Three Kings Day, St. Lucia Day and Diwali (which occurs in October or November).
Children are very curious about other cultures, so by discussing the varying traditions surrounding these holidays in a respectful, nonjudgmental and welcoming manner, you are planting the seeds that will help your children develop an appreciation of the melting pot that is our country and our world.
- Show respect for the differences and traditions in the various celebrations while also highlighting the similarities, such as a focus on family, kindness, and common value of caring for those in need.
- Emphasize the spirit of sharing and giving by donating to your local food pantry, buying gifts for a toy drive, volunteering or taking part in another charitable act. These are all great ways to participate in what globally unites us as we celebrate at this time of year.
- Take part in some of the rituals surrounding holidays that you don’t typically celebrate by cooking special foods, listening to another culture’s music, reading books about the celebrations, watching videos or doing a craft project. Your community library is a great resource on all these subjects.
- When life returns to normal and social distancing is a thing of the past, bring your children to celebrations of other cultures at museums, parades, restaurants, religious institutions and more, and invite people of other cultures to celebrate at your home.
- Children learn best from you. Be a role model in acceptance and respect for different cultures and expose them to a variety of people and places.
Wishing everyone a healthy, happy and safe holiday season!
To learn more about the winter celebrations around the world, visit this website from National Geographic Kids.