Celebrating holidays in an early child care setting can be a wonderful and meaningful way to establish community. All cultures honor events, people, and beliefs that hold significance in unique ways. This reality can promote shared interests and it can also pose challenges. Knowing which holidays to celebrate in your setting is important to respecting the diversity, traditions, and values of the families you serve. Having a consistent protocol for how to approach holidays will facilitate how you plan activities and celebrations in your setting and how you communicate with families.
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot is the perfect time of year for family engagement and community-building in preschool settings. This year, the holiday begins at sundown on October 2 and continues through October 9. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which Israelites wandered the desert, living in temporary shelters. Sukkot is also a harvest holiday about coming together and sharing food. Perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Sukkot is a structure built for outdoor eating and sleeping called a sukkah. The sukkah, emblematic of the temporary shelters used during this period of wandering, can be made of any material, as long as it is stable enough to survive the wind. The roof, however, is typically made of natural materials, i.e., leaves, bamboo, etc. Once established, the sukkah is a space for family and community gatherings.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that honors those who died while serving for the United States military. Celebrated annually on the last Monday in May, it was originally known as Decoration Day. It began after the Civil War, and officially became a holiday in 1971. For many, Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer. Memorial Day is commemorated in many ways—some will hold gatherings and participate in parades. Others will visit cemeteries and memorials to honor loved ones. Celebrating the holiday often means acknowledging the concept of death with children. Though talking with children about death can be challenging, it’s not impossible.
When discussing death with a child, first find out what he or she knows. Many children have misconceptions, fears, and worries surrounding the concept of death. While talking about it may not solve all of their problems, you may be able to provide information, comfort, and a clearer understanding of what death means.
National Child Care Provider Day or Provider Appreciation Day is celebrated annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day. This commemoration was established in 1996 by a group of volunteers in New Jersey, who saw the need to recognize the work of child care providers. Each year, the celebration grows as individuals, local governments, and community groups take time to recognize and value the efforts of early learning providers. We want to say Thank You for all of your hard work! Because of your time, patience, and commitment, children are learning and feeling loved every day.