Internet Field Trip: Holidays ’Round the World Wide Web
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
If you speak of "lights aglow" for the holidays, you may be talking about the menorah candles of Chanukah, the candlelight of Kwanzaa, the festive lights of the Christmas tree, or — if it were earlier in the year — the oil lamps lit for Diwali, India's Festival of Lights. With its global reach, the Internet is an excellent place for your class to explore the history and traditions of holidays around the world — and share some traditions of your own.
Why are the menorah candles lit? How did the tradition of a Christmas tree begin? You can find out at Holidays on the Net, a site that encompasses the origins, symbols, music, and food of many different holidays. Children can learn at Chanukah on the Net about one of the best-known symbols of the Jewish holiday, the dreidel, and then make and color a paper version of the four-sided tops. At Christmas on the net, learn how to make your own Advent calendar. Or, read about the history of Christmas, which traces the origins of the holiday through different cultures.
Many people love a snowy white Christmas, but in Australia, many kids actually go to the beach during the warm Christmas holiday — as you can discover in ZuZu, a kids' online newspaper. Its sampling of holiday cheer from near and far has children's poems, favorite recipes, and kids' tales of how they mark holidays throughout the world, from New Year's Day in Brazil to St. Nicholas Day in Hungary.
Another winter holiday with roots in a faraway culture is Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday based on ancient African harvest festivals. Like other holidays, Kwanzaa has its own foods and a special feast, as well as symbols such as the kinara, which holds the seven candles lit for the holiday.
If, after all this globe-trotting, you still want to know about a particular holiday or tradition anywhere in the world, try the Multicultural Calendar, a database of holidays by country, month, or name, to which kids contribute their recollections. Or, if you're looking for a one-stop site for information on many cultural celebrations, Scholastic's Celebrate Winter Holidays may be right up your alley. After all this exposure, you will come away with a sure sense that whatever the days or traditions, people the world over cherish their holidays!