This past weekend, as my family was trimming the Christmas tree, neighbors down the street were getting ready for Hanukkah while friends across town were fasting for Ramadan. It's winter holiday time, a time when many Americans end the year gathering with relatives, enjoying great food and giving gifts. It's also a great time of year to teach kids about the importance of having an open mind about different cultures and traditions. So in our house, even though we only celebrate Christmas, we also acknowledge the other winter holidays with books, crafts and activities.
Here is a list of some of the greatest winter holiday information and activities for children. I tried to cover all of the biggies. Did I miss any? How do you and your family celebrate the winter holidays? Leave a note in the comments section below.
Lighting candles is one of many activities involved in Diwali. (Photo: GPS/flickr)
Diwali is five-day festival of lights celebrated by Hindus around the world in the fall.
Hanukkah is an eight-day commemoration in Judasism marking the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.
Ramadan is a month of daily fasting during daylight hours for Muslims that culminates in the holiday of Edi al-Fitr.
Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ for Christians.
Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration of African heritage and culture.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year celebrations include lanterns and colorful parades. (Photo: Paul/flickr)
The Chinese New Year marks the end of winter and the start of spring.
Other winter holiday celebrations
Hanukkah, Ramadan, Christmas and Kwanzaa are the most well-known winter holidays celebrated in this country, but that doesn't mean they're the only holidays. Other popular winter holidays include:
- Santa Lucia Day, an ancient Swedish festival during which blond-haired girls wear crowns of green leaves studded with lighted candles.
- Winter Solstice, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year, is also celebrated with festivals, decorations and ancient ceremonies that honor nature.
- Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany, marks the day the three kings arrived to visit the newborn Christ child. This day is most commonly marked with festivities in Hispanic countries and cultures.