Celebrate These 5 December Holidays from Other Cultures
While Christmas decorations seem to be everywhere after Thanksgiving, there are plenty of other holidays to learn about. Share stories of other cultures and religions and craft and cook with your kids to teach them about these other December holidays.
Hanukkah (Dec. 24-Jan. 1)
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This happened in the 160s BC. Hanukkah last for eight days and starts on the 25th of Kislev, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar, Kislev can happen from late November to late December.
Get in the Hanukkah spirit by creating a pasta menorah like this on MV Times’ website.
- one lasagna noodle
- nine rigatoni
- other pasta for decoration — bowties, spirals, elbows, etc.
- Elmer’s glue
- gold or silver metallic spray paint
Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12)
Celebrated in Mexico, this holiday is primarily a Catholic feast day. It honors the belief that the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Mexico, miraculously appeared to a man in Mexico City in the early 1500s. The streets are crowded with festival-makers and pilgrims who come to pray at the famous basilica. While the goal of thousands is to pray, others dress in traditional costumes and dance at fiestas around the country.
Celebrate with these delicious Mexican Wedding Cookies by blogger Dianna Kennedy of The Kennedy Adventures.
1 Cup Butter Softened (we like to use Kerrygold)
½ Cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Finely Pecans, finely chopped
½ Cup Powdered Sugar
Hogmanay (Dec. 31-Jan. 1)
Hogmanay celebrates the Scottish New Year. On New Year’s Eve, people gather in the streets and in each other’s homes to welcome the new year with eating, drinking, storytelling, and gift-giving.
It is a Hogmanay tradition to greet the new year by standing in a circle and singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Another famous tradition at Hogmanay is “first-footing,” where guests are invited to visit different homes after midnight, bringing gifts.
Celebrate like the Scots with this hearty Scottish steak pie, which is a traditional dish for Hogmanay. Try out this recipe from the Arousing Appetites blog.
Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1)
Kwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first fruits" in Swahili.
The first-fruits celebrations are recorded in African history as far back as ancient Egypt and Nubia and appear in ancient and modern times in other classical African civilizations. Kwanzaa celebrates seven different principles including self determination, creativity and responsibility. The seven principles are represented in the Kwanzaa kinara.
To celebrate, help your kids craft their own Kwanzaa kinara like this one from PBS.org.
- seven cardboard tubes (toilet paper or paper towel rolls)
- scissors (optional)
- tape or glue
- yellow or orange tissue paper
- paint (red, green and black)
Pancha Ganapati (Dec. 21-25)
Ganapati is another name for the elephant god Ganesha. In Hindu mythology, Ganesha represents culture, art, and new beginnings.
Sometimes called the “Hindu Christmas,” Pancha Ganapati consists of a five-day family holiday celebrated by Hindus around the world. Each day, people gather to worship Ganesha at a decorated shrine in their living rooms. All five days are packed with pujas (prayers) to perform, gifts to exchange, and elaborate themed ceremonies commemorating one of the five faces of Lord Ganesh.
To celebrate, making Vadai (spicy donuts), a traditional dish eaten during Pancha Ganapati. Try this recipe from Hinduism Today's website.