The holidays are a time to come together, share, and celebrate the joys of our world – from the things that connect us to the things that make us different. And, in an increasingly more complex and global world, it’s critical we provide our children with opportunities to broaden their world view and deepen their understanding of other cultures and ideas. We all have our own holiday customs, traditions, and beliefs – making the holiday season the perfect time for parents to encourage their children to celebrate diversity and embrace multiculturalism.
To help you enrich this joyous time of year, here are a few ways you can weave the rich tapestry of other cultures and global traditions into the fabric of your own holiday celebrations:
When the days are short and the weather is cold, there’s nothing quite like huddling by the fire with your family close and a good story to tell. Children learn by seeing, doing, and forming connections between their own experiences and the information they’re given or observe in the world around them. Illustrated holiday books are a fun and engaging way to introduce your child to diversity and other cultural traditions.
Reading stories that explore how different families express their values and beliefs will help your child develop an understanding and awareness of other cultural practices and traditions, and allow them to reflect on their own. With many wonderful multicultural and diversity-themed books available, here are just a few of our favorites for you to consider:
Winter Candle - by Jeron Ashford
Using the common thread of celebrating light in darkness, this urban tale weaves together a beautiful story of community in our diverse and multicultural world when a single, lumpy candle is passed around an apartment complex to light each family’s winter celebration and guide new tenant home.
Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations Around the World by Heather Conrad
Also using the motif of light, this book explores many different winter celebrations from around the world – from the familiar to the lesser known holidays, like Teng Chieh, Soyal, and Las Posadas.
December’s Gift: An Interfaith Holiday Story by Ashley Smith-Santos
This relatable tale follows a young girl, Clara, as she discovers the underlying meaning of both Hanukkah and Christmas through the stories, holiday memories, and cooking traditions of her two grandmothers: Bubbe and Grammy. For an added bonus, this book also includes recipes for making your own latkes and Christmas cookies, which we just happen to discuss next is a wonderful way of introducing and celebrating diversity.
No holiday seems complete without a gathering around the family table for a shared meal and revelry. With little hands often eager to help, the kitchen is a great place to incorporate lessons about different cultures and global traditions.
Have a relative that may have celebrated the holidays in a different way growing up? Invite them into the kitchen to share their story and cook a dish from their childhood for a hands-on family activity. Or, find a story (like Growing Up With Tamales by Gwendolyn Zepeda) that highlights how a holiday may be celebrated in another culture, and have your little one help you cook a special dish from it.
Whatever way you go about it, adding a little global cuisine to your holiday table will allow your child to see their own holiday traditions from a new – yet relatable – perspective. Plus, you’ll get some great bonding time, and maybe even pull those eyes away from their screens!
As we often say, the best learning experiences are often the ones that inspire creativity and abstract reasoning through self-expression and play. The case is no different here. Arts and crafts over the holiday season can be a fun way to infuse your winter holiday with a little global flair and cultural awareness.
Each winter holiday – from Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more – come with their own rich histories and global traditions, and provide multiple avenues for engaging your child’s artistic mind and creative thinking skills. For inspiration, here are a few project ideas:
Want more ways to celebrate diversity? Check out our blog post on some holiday gifts ideas, including a multicultural cookbook and other great items that inspire tolerance and global citizenship!
Multicultural Holiday Decorations:
This could include anything from crafting globally-inspired holiday ornaments to festive garlands with the symbols and motifs from different holidays, or constructing your own Kwanzaa Kinara or homemade Hanukkah Dreidels.
Holiday Paper Dolls:Explore different cultures and holidays by making paper dolls – providing a platform for your child to see the visual diversity of our world cultures and play out their own stories about how these dolls might interact or celebrate together.
Encourage them to create dolls (or make them yourself beforehand) that are racially and ethnically diverse, and make sure to provide books or other resources they can reference while they craft their different holiday outfits. We particularly like: Children Just Like Me: Celebrations by Anabel Kindersley.
Create Your Own Holiday:Once you’ve introduced a few different holidays and global traditions, invite your child to invent their own holiday and craft the items they’d use to celebrate it. This provides a great opportunity for them to be creative, contemplate what customs and traditions they value, and reflect in a meaningful way on the aspects of other cultures and their holidays they liked and may want to include in their “new” holiday.
Want more ways to celebrate diversity? Check out our blog for some holiday gifts ideas, including a multicultural cookbook and other great items that inspire tolerance and global citizenship!