Holidays or Holy Days

16 Dec

Holidays or Holy Days: A Mini-Lesson on Celebrations | Edutopia.

Click the link above for a article that helps explain my view on holiday celebrations in public schools.  I’ve outlined some of the questions that the author, Maurice Elias, suggests educators ask during the few moments of holiday conversation throughout the year.

  • What does it mean to celebrate?
  • What are some things your family celebrates at this time of year (it’s fine if students mention personal celebrations, such as a parent’s birthday, though the goal is to get at more cultural/religious celebrations)?
  • Can you think of someone you know that celebrates something different from you and your family around this time of year? Why do they celebrate it?
  • What are some different ways to celebrate? Are celebrations always happy? (Here, you want to encourage acknowledging that some events are celebrated, remembered, in ways that can be sad; sometimes celebrations are quiet and involve emotionally meaningful actions, such as laying a wreath or flowers on a commemorative location)
  • Why do so many different people and groups celebrate things?
  • What’s the most important part of celebrations? (Here, you want to encourage all responses — food, fun, being with family, remembering important things, stories, rituals, gifts, appreciation, gratitude — while making the point that one should always be sure to understand what is being celebrated and keep it in mind.) Consider supplementing this lesson with stories about celebrations. You can have students go to the Internet to learn about one kind of celebration they heard about from classmates that they did not know about.
Have a great weekend!

via Holidays or Holy Days.

5 Responses to “Holidays or Holy Days”

  1. Maryann December 17, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    I start every school year with a “holiday survey” -all Boucher Bunch Families x off the holidays they celebrate throughout the year – the essential focus of this survey: inclusion. I invite all families in to share their celebrations and traditions with our school family. This has been very successful throughout my tenure in the classroom.
    I will add some of the questions noted in the article – they are a great spring board for conversation!

    Mary Lou- thanks for the details noted in your post- this enhanced my background knowledge of the different cultures represented in our school community. Maybe next year you could host a little” Holiday Happenings”, so we all can broaden our understanding of the diverse learners here at FCU?

  2. Karen Landsman December 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    This is a very timely post…it seems so natural to take time at this point in the calendar year to stop and think about what is important in our lives, how we have spent the past year, and what the new year might bring. The dates on the calendar aren’t the most important thing; it is taking the time to reflect. Have you tried to be a good person? Were you (in kidspeak) “naughty” or “nice”? Can you take the time now to try a little harder to be kind and giving and thankful?
    As the author of the article states: “The celebration is to make sure we don’t go too long without remembering and, usually, coming together with others who share the meaning of the celebration with us.”
    This is what our library lessons have been about over the past month; it is my hope that each student has felt included in sharing the family traditions they enjoy as well as becoming aware of the traditions of others. The lighting of lights, special colors, foods, and music, the giving and receiving of gifts, spending time with family and friends – these are the traditions common to December celebrations and it is in knowing this that all students feel included.

    • Mary Lou Donahoe December 16, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

      It is a timely article indeed. It is important to shift the children’s focus to notice that all of our holiday traditions evolve around “light” and not on commercial figures that create unrealistic expectations. Catholics begin with the Advent by lighting a candle for 4 weeks. This has to do with the time of the year, we are at the darkest time, and it can be related to the Solstice. As Karen Landsman very well says the “the lighting of lights, special colors, foods music, the giving and receiving of gifts but most importantly spending time with loved ones and friends. Should be the most important focus of these celebrations. I would like to ad some information I have found on Wikipedia regarding the history of different cultures and their celebration of lights as “food for thought”:
      The solstice itself may have been a special moment of the annual cycle of the year even during neolithic times. Astronomical events, which during ancient times controlled the mating of animals, sowing of crops and metering of winter reserves between harvests, show how various cultural mythologies and traditions have arisen.
      In late 7th century Japan, festivities were held to celebrate the reemergence of Amaterasu or Amateras, the sun goddess of Japanese mythology, from her seclusion in a cave.
      The Saami, indigenous people of Finland, Sweden and Norway, worship Beiwe, the sun-goddess of fertility and sanity. She travels through the sky in a structure made of reindeer bones with her daughter, Beiwe-Neia, to herald back the greenery on which the reindeer feed. On the winter solstice, her worshipers sacrifice white female animals, and thread the meat onto sticks which they bend into rings and tie with bright ribbons. They also cover their doorposts with butter so Beiwe can eat it and begin her journey once again.
      Christians observe the birth of Christ is on December 25, which was the Roman winter solstice upon establishment of the Julian Calendar.
      Hanukkah (Hebrew: חֲנֻכָּה, Tiberian: Ḥănukkāh, nowadays usually spelled חנוכה pronounced [χanuˈka] in Modern Hebrew, also romanized as Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE,
      Peru, Bolivia and Educador celebrate The Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the sun god Inti. It also marked the winter solstice and a new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere.

      Therefore, the December celebrations around the world are more related to events that happen in nature, such as shortest days, the winter Solstice and the coming of the light as an opportunity to go “within” and reflect about our lives, give thanks and cherish with all the people we love, care the beginning of a new year.

      • Debbie Lyscars December 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

        I enjoyed reading the article. It reminded me of all the history we can learn from finding out from others the traditions they celebrate during any holiday. Students seem very interested in learning about what children their age do all over the world to celebrate.

      • Mary Lou Donahoe December 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

        I am just so pleased that so far people who have responded are insterested in knowing about how children celebrate in other countries and different traditions. Our school library has a “culture corner”, presently has information about Hanukkah but last October we had a cultural corner about Dwaly the Festival of Lights in honor of our first grade student from India. Mrs. Landsman’s library post made reference to that. We do have lots of books about many cultures and their celebrations in our school library. Please check them out. We also have parents who are available and they can come and talk with our students about their celebrations. As the article that Drew posted said, Celebrations happen through out the year, not just NOW in December and I think that is the main point of Dr. Elli’s article. We tend to concentrate NOW in December because is what we commercially know but to be mindful that Celebrations happen all the time all over the world. Darkness takes place at different times through out our hemisphere. It so happens in our school second grade reading we are just wrapping up a unit on Lest Explore, and that ties nicely with nature and what happens through out the seasons and in nature and it so happens it fell this year during the Solstice. I think the unit we are just ending in second grade could explore the question posed by Dr. Ellis as to Why do so many people and groups celebrate things? Nature is related to many things, tress die for a reason yet they are so connected to our own survival as they produce oxygen and give us wood or food. .. Culturally we need the tought of light because of our own sense of fear but nature has no fear…nature follows a natural path. How about asking students to find out why does that happen in nature?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: