Holiday Celebrations

Becky Langerman | Brevard, NC

This time of year we recognize the many holidays that are celebrated in our country and around the world. While there are cultural sensitivities around saying, “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays,” children are open to learning about different holiday traditions. In addition, they are proud of the traditions in their own families and excited to share those with others. Traditions help shape a child’s identity and bond them to those they love. At Mountain Sun, we have traditions as a school and in our separate classrooms which students become invested in as a part of the community.

Over the years, our winter celebrations have been varied and diverse. The Winter Solstice is a day based on the revolution and tilt of the Earth in relation to the Sun and relates to many of the traditions involving light. This day is recognized as the darkest, but also the beginning of the return of the light. Mountain Sun students often begin singing songs about this day in the Primary classes. In the Elementary and Middle School, the solstices and equinoxes are learned about through science and geography lessons.

Learning the history behind the different holidays and traditions gives students a reverence and respect for each one. Throughout their time at Mountain Sun, children may hear or research the stories behind the different Winter holidays, such as Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Las Posadas, or the Chinese New Year to name a few. It is especially engaging when we have students who celebrate these particular holidays. In the Monarch Class, we learned about Las Posadas this year from our Guatemalan exchange student. In past years, we’ve had latkes for Hanukkah and explored the history of the Christmas tree and Santa Claus. We have a class tradition of reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, which tells the biblical version of the Christmas story through fictional comedy.

It’s also fun to study traditions in other countries. Some years, students choose a country and explore the culture around their winter holidays. You might remember when the Acorn Class learned about St. Lucia and created a beautiful performance to honor the Swedish tradition. Have you heard about how Norwegians hide their brooms on Christmas Eve to keep out evil spirits? Or how about the Feast of the Seven Fishes in Italy? Of course, there’s the Dutch tradition of leaving a shoe out with hay and carrots for “Sinterklaas.” In Japan, it’s become customary to eat KFC on Christmas. I’ve learned about all of these traditions from Monarchs over the years. When we allow children to learn about the differences in cultures and traditions around the world and in our own community, we are creating a world of acceptance for beliefs other than our own.

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