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 month of December can feel like a whirlwind. As educators, we often think about how to approach holidays in our classrooms this time of year. Three major holidays are highlighted this month—Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah—but culturally, we know that so much more is at play in the lives of the children in our care and in the world at large. If all of the children in your setting celebrate the same December holiday, then you may simply embrace it and move along. However, for more diverse groups, it may be a struggle to know what to do—to know what families would like for you to do. Before promoting any holiday in your setting, it is best to talk with families and caregivers about their preferences. You might also consider taking an anti-bias education approach, which seeks to promote fairness and inclusion in school settings by offering alternative and informed approaches to celebrating mainstream holidays. Here are 5 examples to consider: Continue reading
The holiday of Purim is arguably the most joyous day of the Jewish year. Purim marks the time that Queen Esther helped save the Jewish people from being harmed by Haman, a confidant to King Achashverosh, who did not agree with the customs of Jewish people. (You can read a detailed account of the story here.) If you are approaching Purim from a Christian lens, it is helpful to know that King Achashverosh is referred to as King Xerxes in the book of Esther in the New International Version of the Bible (it will also explain variations in the spellings of certain names).
The Purim story involves violence and death, but Jewish families and preschools often modify this story to help children understand how one person can make a difference. When Queen Esther, a Jewish woman, learned of Haman’s plan, she spoke up and saved her people. Her courage is commemorated each year in Jewish communities, where people host parties, wear costumes, give gifts to family and friends, read the megillah (the story of Queen Esther), and offer tzedakah, or charity, to those in need.