Sure, you can recite 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and sing along with every Christmas song you hear on the radio. But what do you do when your child asks, “What is a dreidel?” Or “What exactly is Kwanzaa?”
You can turn your child’s curiosity into a fun family quest to find out more information on different ways holidays are celebrated this season!
Here is a brief primer of the major holidays celebrated during the month of December:
Hanukkah - (December 20-28th in 2011) is known as the Festival of Lights and is a celebration with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games (such as a dreidel) and gifts.
Christmas - (December 25th) a generally Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. A Christmas tree is often decorated and many children also believe in Santa Claus, who brings presents to children on Christmas Eve night.
Kwanzaa - (December 26th-January 1st) is a seven day festival celebrating African American people, their culture, and their history. There are seven symbols that are used in the celebration of the holiday.
The following is a list of resources to use this holiday season and throughout the year as more of those “What is…?” questions arise.
Libraries and Bookstores
Take advantage of the wide selection of holiday books, DVDs, and music available by taking a family trip to the library. “Each branch has their own programs during the holiday season,” said Linda Mathusa, a library assistant with the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system. “You could run from branch to branch going to different activities this time of year.”
For a gift idea this year, think of purchasing new holiday book, different from the holiday you celebrate, at a local bookstore. Each year you can build on to your multi-cultural home library.
While walking into an unfamiliar house of worship might seem a bit daunting, the holidays are an excellent time to learn about the essence of various religious celebrations. Tag along with a friend or call a local place of worship and simply tell them you are interested in attending a service to learn more about the different ways holidays are celebrated. Many places will have specific concerts and celebrations in honor of the upcoming holiday.
Cookies, cookies everywhere! In many households, the holidays are all about eating! Why not expand your family’s culinary horizons by investing in a multi-cultural holiday cookbook? Family members can take turns choosing recipes. Challenge children to make a list of ingredients and help find the items with you at the grocery store.
‘Tis the season to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, but there are also opportunities to watch holiday-centric documentaries and specials. The History Channel and PBS are good options to find factual shows about the various upcoming holidays. Their online sites also have video selections from past specials.
Full of videos, craft ideas, recipes, games, and printable pages, the internet is a good one-stop-shop for holiday family fun. Here are some sites to get you started:
www.holidays.net – A web site geared towards all things holiday. Provides kid-friendly information on the background of each holiday.
www.kaboose.com -- With their “Craft Finder,” you can search for crafts based on holiday, age group, and length of time desired.
www.storynory.com -- Free audio stories for kids, including A Visit from St. Nicholas and A Christmas Carol.
Local Holiday Festivities
Here is a brief listing of upcoming holiday/cultural celebrations in the area. All are free!
Hanukkah/Christmas: Dec 3rd: 8 pm/Dec 4th: 3 pm; The Rappahannock Choral Society’s 2nd annual Christmas concert. Selections range from Hanukkah to traditional holiday music. Chancellor High School, 6300 Harrison Rd, Fredericksburg 22407.
Kwanzaa: December 5th: 6 pm; African and African American food and culture; co-sponsored by the Black Student Association; Woodard Campus Center, Great Hall; (540) 654-1044; 1301 College Ave, Fredericksburg 22401.
Christmas: December 17th: 5 pm; Fredericksburg Baptist Church will host a “Living Nativity,” celebrating the birth of Christ. Refreshments will be provided. All welcome. (540) 373-4402; 1019 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg 22401.
For more listings, check out Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine’s event calendar online which is updated daily! Narrow your search by selecting Holiday Events from the category chooser in the right hand column.
Kerry Pinto is a freelance writer living in Stafford with her husband and two holiday-cookie-loving children.