Sharing Holiday Traditions in the Classroom
I have many fond recollections of holiday celebrations from my time as a student, including the annual Thanksgiving dinner in the gymnasium, the Halloween parade of costumes, the preparations for and performances of the Christmas concert, and the decorating of Easter eggs.
Holiday celebrations and traditions are typically the most exciting part of the school year for both students and teachers, but how can we negotiate holidays and traditions while maintaining an inclusive and respectful environment in the classroom?
Teachers may handle any holiday or special event in a courteous manner by implementing strategies in their classrooms and schools. These strategies also have academic benefits. Holidays and religious events should be chosen based on the number of students in your class. When I have more varied classrooms, I make an effort to celebrate more prominent holidays, learn about ones that would be unfamiliar to the majority of my kids, and at the very least share a little film or conduct a small activity to recognise them.
LEARN ABOUT EACH OTHER
The knowledge and understanding of students’ and instructors’ cultural backgrounds, faiths, families, and traditions at the start of the school year helps to reduce fear and improve empathy. Students can also use it to ask questions and break down prejudices because it provides a platform for them. Because some kids and parents may be apprehensive at first, I send a message home at the beginning of the school year, as part of my general introduction letter, describing our purpose in commemorating different holidays. A line that reads: “We are looking forward to learning about each other’s families, cultures, holidays, and celebrations during the school year” is something I normally include. If you are interested in volunteering to help us celebrate a cultural festival, dinner, or celebration, please contact me using the signature information provided below.”
Several parents have come forward as a consequence of my request in the introduction letter, and they have shared and participated in our festivities. Our festivities included the burning of sweetgrass, the presentation of traditional clothes from many countries, the dancing to traditional holiday music from all over the world—as well as the preparation and tasting of a variety of holiday delicacies.
A visual collage representing one’s lineage, faith, and family can be created and presented by students in the form of an identity collage. This activity can be completed and presented by teachers as well.
Create a list of ten get-to-know-you questions with your kids and then allow them to interact with one another when they have completed their list. After then, each pair of students presents their companion to the rest of the class. Example questions are frequently required by students in order to get them started. I usually begin with a brainstorming list of questions that students can use as a starting point for this activity and have them posted on the board throughout the course of the session.
Among the questions that could be asked are:
How many different places have you called home?
Where have you been on your travels?
What is your favourite recreational activity?
What is your favourite holiday to celebrate?
Do you participate in sports?
When it comes to school, what is your favourite subject?
What is the cultural background of the individual?
What is the total number of persons in your family?
Do you have any animals as pets?
What is your favourite dish to eat?
‘Line Game’ is an expression that refers to a game in which lines are drawn between two points on the board. Create a line on the floor of the classroom with a piece of tape. Next, pose a series of questions to the class, such as “Who has a sibling?” or “Who has lived in another country?” and ask any kids who have had that experience to come forward. It is possible for students to ask questions, and the teacher can also participate. Students can contribute information about their experiences and backgrounds in a low-risk environment by participating in the game.
What is the purpose of celebrating or acknowledging festivals and traditions? What factors influenced the development of these holidays and traditions? Students frequently have no clue about the origins of the holidays or rituals that they observe or participate in. Learning about them paves the way for academic investigation and debate about why they are there.
Extend the scope of the discussion beyond North American festivals and customs. My favourite technique to broaden the scope of our discussion is to begin with a History Channel movie about holidays and traditions from a range of cultures and religious traditions. They are short and engaging, and they frequently include exercises and resources for instructors, which I appreciate. After you’ve finished watching, you can engage in a range of different exercises to help you retain what you’ve learned. For example, after watching a film, I may ask them to write a paragraph describing one of the film’s themes or elements. Group discussions regarding the content can also serve as an excellent beginning point for learning about different holidays and religious beliefs.
In order to promote deeper comprehension, films are not the only tool available. A tailored approach to improving understanding can be achieved by inviting religious leaders from other faith traditions to speak in the classroom about their experiences. I invite a local indigenous leader to speak in my school about his customs and oral creation stories, which he enthusiastically accepts. As part of this practise, he frequently burns sweetgrass, and my pupils have always been intrigued and captivated by this activity, which is unfamiliar to the majority of them. Students obtain a more nuanced understanding of the indigenous traditions of the surrounding area by hearing directly from a local leader in person.
It is appropriate to celebrate holidays and customs from across the world that have specific celebration dates in your classroom in the same manner that you would celebrate typical North American holidays and traditions. Student appreciation for others’ holidays and customs can be enhanced by simple tactics such as urging students to dress in a certain way or make a piece of art, share food, perform a song, or write anything that is linked to the holiday or tradition in question.
The fact that you are pausing your regular classroom activities to show respect for all holidays and customs observed by your pupils promotes a climate of acceptance and inclusion, regardless of the form of celebration you choose.