Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season! The last month of the year is filled with with winter celebrations and holidays from around the world. We believe it’s important to learn about and celebrate different cultures, so we have created a list to name a few of Decembers’ holidays along with craft ideas and of course, French vocabulary!
In Christian faith, Christmas is the historical celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Some people celebrate it for this religious reason while other traditions and celebrations vary. Christmas usually has depictions of a Santa Claus or Father Christmas. People celebrate Christmas with spending time with family and friends, exchanging gifts, and feasts.
Craft idea: Make your very own Christmas tree ornament. First, go out and gather twigs. Then have your child cut strips of green ribbon into various lengths (or you can if your child is younger). Sort the ribbons from shortest to longest. Tie the ribbon to the twig starting with the shortest length at the top. Add a hanging loop with twine, and then you have your very own little tree ornament.
Christmas tree = sapin de Noel
Santa Claus = Père Noel
Eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew month
An 8 day Jewish celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Celebrations revolve around lighting the menorah, one on each of the holidays eight nights as a symbol of victory of light over darkness. Other customs can include playing with dreidels and exchanging gifts.
Activity idea: make some edible dreidels using marshmallows, pretzel sticks, Hershey’s Kisses, white chocolate and icing for drawing on the symbols. For further instructions, check out our instagram page!
dreidel = des toupies
December 25th to January 1st
Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration that honours African heritage and culture. Kwanzaa means “first fruits” and is a combination of several different harvest celebrations. There are seven core principles that are celebrated: unity, collective work and responsibility, self-determination, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Celebrations of Kwanzaa often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading and a large traditional meal.
Craft idea: Have your child trace their handprint and cut it out 9 times in three colours (red, green and black). Then glue the 9 handprints together to create a wreath. Next you can write out the 7 principles that are celebrated; either write it out directly on a handprint, or write it out and glue it on. On the remaining 2 handprints, you can write Happy Kwanzaa and/or a personalized message.
unity = unité
creativity = créativité
faith = foi
collective work and responsibility = travail collective et responsabilité
self-determination = autodétermination
cooperative economics = économie coopérative
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
December 31st and January 1st
New Year’s Eve and New Years Day is celebrated by many countries around the world. For instance, in Japanese culture, New Years eve is referred to as Omisoka. Omisoka is considered the second-most important day in Japanese rations as it is the final day of the old year and the eve of New Years Day (the most important day of the year). Families gather for one last time in the old year to have a bowl of toshikoshi-soba or toshikoshi-udon, a tradition based on eating the one noodles to cross over from one year to the next.
Other cultures use fireworks as part of their New Year’s Eve celebrations to rid of evil spirits and bring good luck for the year ahead.
Craft idea: Fireworks salt painting! Use black construction paper, glue, table salt, and watercolour paints. Create firework shapes on the black paper using the glue. Sprinkle on the salt and then you can pour off the excess. Next grab your watercolour paints; make sure your paint brush is really wet and paint away by dabbing the salt.
Firework = feu d’artifice
New day = nouveau jour
5 day celebration between mid-October and mid-December
Diwali is celebrated for a 5-day period between mid-october to mid-december. This is one of the worlds largest festivals which is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhist sects. Diwali symbolizes victory of light over darkness. Some traditions include decorating lamps, exchanging gifts and spending time together.
Craft idea: Paper plate diyas! Cut a paper plate in half and add a piece of paper to form the flame. Decorate and paint as you wish!
Light = lumière
Winter Solstice- Solstice d’hiver
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. People from all over the world participate in festival and celebrations to commemorate winter solstice.
Craft idea: Create ice ornaments! Take a walk in nature and collect materials for your ice ornaments, perhaps trimmings of a tree, berries, pine cones, acorns or whatever else you have available. Then using a muffin tin, add your nature materials and then slowly add water. You can add a piece of ribbon too to hang it up once frozen.
Winter = hiver
We thought we would share with you these various December celebrations as a fun and educational way to explore the holidays and gain a better understanding of festivals and cultural celebrations from around the world. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!