Hello friends, it’s Joy Sun Bear!
I really enjoy this time of year! It seems like everyone in the world is celebrating something. There are so many different celebrations, each with their own stories, but they all share similar things. Lots of these traditions have feasts, lights, gift giving, and helping others.
Photo Above by Joy Sun Bear, Inc.
In much of the world, people celebrate Christmas. Christmas is easy to spot because of the many colorful lights, decorated trees, and the jolly fellow himself, Santa Claus, with his big red sleigh and flying reindeer. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the people celebrating it focus on doing good things for others. On Christmas day, families get together and exchange gifts to show they’re thinking of each other.
Although the origin of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of a very important person in history, Jesus Christ - who spent his life caring for others and performing good deeds - the holiday has collected many traditions and customs from other holidays along the way, such as decorating a tree and giving wrapped gifts. Many people celebrate Christmas simply as a time to get together with family and loved ones, and to remember that miracles start with each of us. However it is celebrated, the most important part of Christmas is about the spirit of giving to, and caring for, everyone you meet.
In Mexico, people celebrate Las Posadas, which is a two week long celebration before Christmas. There are parades and pinatas, and tamales! It is to celebrate how the parents of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, traveled far before arriving at an inn where Jesus was born. To do this, a home in the neighborhood is chosen to be the "inn", then two people dress like Mary and Joseph and walk through the town with all the children dressed as angels and shepherds protecting them.
The interactive video below shares how Christmas is celebrated in the countries of theUnited States of America, Japan, Brazil, Sweden, Germany, Mexico and even Australia where my friends in Mrs. Joyce's 3/4J class live! Click on the different country flags at the end of the video to watch more on how Christmas is celebrated in each country. It was really cool seeing Santa Claus on water skis in Australia!
Another common celebration this time of the year is Hanukkah. It is celebrated for eight days, lighting a candle each night on a special candle holder called a menorah. Like Christmas, Hanukkah has its roots in the celebration of a miracle; it is about a time when a temple was rededicated to the Jewish people. There was only enough oil for the temple's menorah to burn for one night, yet it burned for eight whole days. There are also special foods - like potato latkes and jelly filled donuts - and gift giving, usually coins given from adults to children. To learn more about Hanukkah, check out these great blogs that include books, crafts, recipes and more! (Photo of Menorah By By 39james (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons).
Diwali, also called the Festival of Lights, is celebrated in India, not too far from my home in Sumatra! It is about all things good outshining all things bad. They really go all out with so many, many lights! The celebration usually lasts for five whole days, with the most important day landing on the same day as the new moon. There are prayers, a feast, and fireworks! People place lamps and candles all around their homes. So pretty! To learn more about this bright holiday, check out these blogs on Multicultural Kid Blogs. (The Rangoli of Lights Photo (Right) By Subharnab Majumdar [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons).
Kwanzaa is another holiday celebrated with candles and comes from a term in Swahili - a language from the continent of Africa - meaning “first fruits”. The origins of Kwanzaa can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The purpose of Kwanzaa is to gather with friends and family to build stronger relationships, and to give thanks for all of life’s blessings. Also, Kwanzaa is very special among the people in, and from, Africa because it is a time when they get to focus on all the things that make up their very unique and fun culture. There is singing, dancing, and a big feast called a "Karamu". Kwanzaa lasts for seven nights, and each night the children light a candle on the kinara. Below is a great video by Sesame Street that shares more about Kwanzaa. (Kwanzaa Photo By soulchristmas [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr).
There are so many more, but I can’t write about them all today. But, what I find most fun about all of these holidays, is that each family seems to have their own individual traditions that they enjoy while they are celebrating. For example, I know one family that always has hot cocoa and donuts the morning of their celebration. And a good friend of mine, from the United States of America, sent me a picture and told me about how she and her family donate a book to a child in a hospital each Christmas! So wonderful to see kids helping other kids when they need it most!
Aliyah, 5 years, United States of America
I HAVE AN IDEA! Why don’t you ask your parent, guardian or teacher to send me a picture of one of your family’s traditions, tell me all about it, and I’ll post your drawing on my website! Or comment below under the Kids Comment Boxand share a special tradition you celebrate in your country. That way, I can see how all of my friends from around the world celebrate, and you can come back and visit me here to see how kids just like you celebrate in their own unique ways! Who knows? Maybe you’ll find another tradition to enjoy with your family this year!
This month, my friends at Multicultural Kid Blogs are also sharing how Christmas is celebrated around the world in countries like Japan, Nigeria, Spain, Chile and many, many more! Check it out by clicking here and share with me below which country you would want to visit one day during Christmas by asking your parent, guardian or teacher to help you comment below. Another wonderful global education website for children, Kid World Citizen, shares how Christmas is celebrated in 19 different countries. Click here to learn more and enjoy some festive multicultural crafts and activities during the holidays!
Thanks so much for visiting, have a safe and happy holiday season and don’t forget to see the world with joy!
Joy Sun Bear