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Winter Holidays Across Cultures

As parents, we know the importance of introducing our children to diversity in all aspects—from the food they eat, the friends they play with and even to the holidays that are celebrated in other cultures. It opens their minds to the world around them and helps them to understand that the differences between us can actually bring us closer.

 There is a wide variety of celebrations happening around the globe during the winter season. Take a few minutes to become familiar with them—and consider doing a deep dive with your children about holidays different from their own this winter.

Each November or December, Jews light a special candleholder called a menorah for eight days. The menorah symbolizes an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. Each Hanukkah, those who celebrate often eat potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs and spin a dreidel to win small prizes like chocolate coins, nuts or raisins.

St. Lucia Day
On December 13, many Swedish girls dress up as “Lucia brides” in long, white gowns with red sashes and a wreath of burning candles on their heads to honor the third-century saint. In the morning, the girls continue to celebrate the Swedish tradition by singing songs to wake their families and treating them to coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”

December 25 is known around the world to Christians as the day of Jesus Christ’s birth. And while it is a religious and cultural celebration for Christians, both Christians and non-Christians often participate in the holiday. Celebrations include going to church, giving gifts, decorating Christmas trees, Santa Claus and sharing the day with their families and friends.

Based on ancient African harvest festivals, Kwanzaa (which means “First Fruits”) celebrates popular pillars like family life and unity. This spiritual holiday is celebrated from December 26 to January 1. Millions of African Americans around the world decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candleholder called a kinara.

New Year
Every December 31, families in Ecuador dress a straw man in old clothes. The straw man represents the “old year”—and family members create a will for him that lists all of their faults and struggles. At midnight, the straw man is burnt with the hope that their faults will disappear along with him.

Learn a Little More
There are so many different holidays celebrated around the world. And, with each holiday, there is an opportunity to grow and learn a little more about a culture different from your own. Little Learning Hands subscription boxes are the perfect blend—showcasing what life is like at the holidays for another country, as well as what life is like on regular days. Whether you’re adding a new tradition this year inspired by another holiday or just want to explore a bit more with your children, Little Learning Hands explorer boxes are the best gifts to give this holiday season … no matter which one you choose to celebrate!