So I just found a wonderful article in "Social Education" that deals
with the topic and also brings together some thoughts I have
had concerning the recent topic of Holiday Art Projects. I will
summarize the four Multicultural Awareness Goals in "Conflict
Between Law and Religion: A Peaceful Solution for the Teaching of
December Holidays." Perhaps you can use it in your own
work situations. The article is by Arthur Gross Schaefer and Michelle
Britton Bass and describes the work of a committee of
clergy, teachers, school administrators and parents in Santa Barbara. I
am interested in your response. Thanks, in advance. --K
#1 Teach about holidays rather than celebrate holidays.
Students who do not participate in the celebration may feel
uncomfortable when surrounded by holiday symbols.
1. Provide information on the historical background and cultural
celebrations connected with the holidays as part of the social
a. Describe and compare holiday celebrations in various countries.
b. Discuss the origin of holidays as religious or seasonal
2. Use only those songs and stories which serve the educational
goals/principles of a lesson.
#2 Introduce students to the diverse celebrations that occur during the
month of December. Because students are enriched by
diversity, focus on the feeling of celebration which is common to all
By focusing on only one or two specific holidays, some students may feel
singled out, uncomfortable or alienated. While some
groups do not participate in celebrations, all students should have the
opportunity to learn about the holidays of other cultures.
1. Make a paper chain which counts the days to a number of holidays
such as Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Solstice, even if those
celebrations are not represented among students in your class.
2. Introduce students to stories/cultural events that take place in
connection with holidays, but that do not have religious
significance (Nutcracker Suite).
3. Choose art activities which directly relate to educational goals
for teaching about each holiday. -- DOES ANYONE HAVE SUGGESTIONS ABOUT
WHAT THOSE MIGHT BE??
#3 There are commonalties among the holidays in December.
Students often get a strong message from teachers that they support a
particular holiday by what they wear or how they
decorate the room. Students who do not celebrate those particular
holidays may feel excluded or not supported by the
1. Explore the ways that various cultures celebrate festivals with
common themes: for instance festivals of freedom or light in
2. For festivals of light, you may make the object and explain the
practice and significance of each of the following:
a. Solstice - Yule Log
b. Hanukkah - Menorah
c. Kwanzaa - colored candles
d. Christmas - Advent wreath or home/tree lights
e. Las Posadas - Luminaria
3. Discuss gift giving traditions of various cultures. Emphasize
gift giving rather than getting and focus on what we want to
give to each other, our world and ourselves.
#4 See diversity within the context of the rest of the curriculum and
the rest of the year.
When presented with a narrow perspective, students do not have the
opportunity to learn about others in the world and
community. This may make them feel both curious and ignorant of other
holidays celebrated by their friends, family and
1. Discuss differences and similarities of all people .
2. Teach about winter and darkness .
b. Animal adaptation
d. Ancient responses to winter
3. Teachers should assume the responsibility of learning about the
diverse holidays and develop effective means to teach them
4. Teach about peace, freedom and humanity themes of the December
holidays and link them to other events during the year
such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Fourth of July, Lincoln's Birthday.
5. Teach about celebrations of other cultures throughout the year
(Chinese New Year, Vietnamese new Year, Cinco de
Mayo, etc.) so that December and February (Black History Month) aren't
isolated examples of times when other cultures are
-- Karen Hurt
Grafton Library Mary Baldwin College Staunton, Virginia 24401