Bringing home winter celebrations from around the world
By Kevin Zoromski Michigan State University Extension
As children grow and move through the elementary school ages, they begin to notice and learn more about the ways their friends and classmates celebrate holidays, which are similar and different than their own. The end of the year always brings many different traditional, festive and wonderful winter holidays and celebrations from around the world.
For instance, in the United States we celebrate New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31 and New Year’s Day on Jan. 1. However, in China they will celebrate the Chinese New Year from Jan. 27 through Feb. 2, 2017. China Highlights offers up a great look at the Chinese New Year, which can be a good starting point for discussing different celebrations from around the world. It is a great time to teach children how different celebrations occur in other cultures, nations and parts of the world. Take the time to expand a child’s horizon by incorporating other celebrations into already accustomed traditions.
A great place to start is to discuss other celebrations and holidays with your children that you are not already making a part of your own family traditions. In general, children are going to get the chance to learn about the traditions of their own home and family, but will they get the chance to hear about celebrations in other parts of the world?
A quick internet search will bring up pages and pages of time honored traditions and celebrations on other continents and countries. You may want to begin by exploring your own heritage and the original customs learned through generations of family interactions.
Once you have had time to discuss new celebrations with your children, delve a little deeper into newly learned customs. You may want to work with your children to learn about new foods or specific decorations used to celebrate different holidays and seasons. One great celebration to explore comes to us from Munich, Bavaria, in Germany.
Oktoberfest lasts just over two weeks from the middle of September to the first week of October. Oktoberfest is known as the world’s largest fair with a variety of great recipes that could be incorporated into a fun time in the kitchen with your children. A great place to start in the search for recipes is Octoberfest Recipes on the AllRecipes website. There you will find a large amount of recipes specifically created for Oktoberfest.
Another great festival to explore is Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Carnival is also associated with great food; however, the festival is also highlighted by street fairs, dancing, music and parades. Carnival is steeped in the tradition of decoration and costuming, which may bring about great ideas to make crafts and costumes to decorate your home in bright and vibrant colors.
Carnival also has a rich history dating back to ancient Greece with Rio de Janeiro’s actual celebration being traced back to 1723. More information on Carnival can be found in the USA Today article, “History of Carnival in Rio De Janeiro.”
For children, learning is a part of their daily routine and they love to learn as much at home as they do in the classroom. Parents have a great responsibility to teach their children about the traditions of others and how we can all relate to one another.
It is important for our children to grow up in a climate where they may understand and respect differences, but also celebrate similarities.
In the long run, your children will learn about the many cultures around them and they will gain a wider understanding and appreciation for the customs of others. As children grow, family traditions may change, but they will hold onto what they learn over the years and the impact of widening traditions will be a large part of how they celebrate in the future.