Creative Child

Holidays Around the World

by Jennifer McLaughlin

Holidays Around the World


Merry Christmas in Spanish is Feliz Navidad; in French it is Joyeux Noel! No matter what country you are in, there are many variations of Christmas traditions. 

For many families, Christmas is celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, while for other families Christmas is about Santa Claus. No matter if you celebrate for religious reasons or not, many traditions are the same such as decorating a tree, hanging bright lights and wreaths, lighting candles, and decorating with holly, mistletoe, and ornaments.

In the United States and other countries, on Christmas Eve, Santa comes from the North Pole in a sleigh to deliver gifts to children. In Hawaii, it is said he arrives by boat. In Australia, Santa delivers presents on water skis, in Ghana, he comes out of the jungle and in Russia he comes from the woods!


Kwanzaa is one of the fastest growing holidays and is celebrated December 26 through January 1. Based on ancient African harvest and community festivals, family and friends get together to exchange gifts and celebrate African heritage. Each day, a series of black, red, and green candles are lit, which symbolize the seven basic values of African American family life.

The seven principles, called the Nguzo Saba, are unity (Umoja), self-determination (Kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (Ujima), cooperative economics (Ujamaa), purpose (Nia), creativity (Kuumba), and faith (Imani).

To celebrate this holiday, children help decorate their homes with fruit and vegetables, dress in special clothing, usually in traditional Swahili fabrics, and help light the Kinara each day!

Here are some great ideas for Kwanzaa crafts.

New Year's Day

New Year’s Eve, on December 31st, is when most of the festivities happen, and along with a party, food and games, there are often fireworks at midnight to celebrate the New Year.

New Year's Day is the first day of the year of the calendar, celebrated on January 1. Traditions in the southern part of the United States for families include eating black-eyed peas for luck and prosperity, greens (usually collards) to bring wealth, and pork because pigs root forward.

In Ireland, Corned Beef and Cabbage is eaten to symbolize a New Year filled with luck, prosperity and abundance. In Japan, Shogatsu or New Year, is celebrated from January 1st through 3rd.

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Three Kings Day

In some cultures, at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas comes a day called the Epiphany, El Dia de Reyes, or Three Kings Day. This holiday, celebrated January 6th, is celebrated as the day the three wise men first saw baby Jesus and brought him gifts. In Mexico, children will write letters to the Three Wise Men and attach them to balloons.

On this day in Spain and other Latin American countries, many children get their Christmas presents. In Puerto Rico, before children go to sleep on January 5th, they leave a box under their beds so the kings will leave good presents.

In France, a delicious "kings' cake" known as La galette des rois is baked. In Spanish, this cake is called Rosca de Reyes. Bakers hide a coin, jewels, figures of baby Jesus or little toys inside it.

Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Mexican Tradition, held in honor of Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, on December 12th. One of the most celebrated days in the Mexican calendar, this day commemorates the belief that Jesus’ mother appeared in Mexico in 1531.

Catholics from across Mexico and other countries pay pilgrimage to see an image of LaVirgen Morena, or the Virgin Mary, in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Children dress in traditional costumes and are blessed in churches.

Here is a fun activity for kids to do for this holiday!  

Muharram, Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

Muharram is the Islamic new year, and is celebrated with prayers, readings and reflection.

A month-long observance celebrated by Muslims around the world, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Focused on extra prayers, fasting, and giving to charity. When Ramadan concludes, there is the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, which is a 3-day celebration of special prayers, family visits and feasting. There is some gift giving on the first day, which is the largest part of the holiday.

In Arabic, Eid Mubarak means “Happy Holidays” too! Here are some great resources for children to learn, through books, about the Muslim holidays. 

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and it falls on different dates each year, between January 21 and February 20. The Chinese believe the color gold will bring wealth, and the color red is considered especially lucky so many decorations and clothing worn during the New Year is red and gold. Traditional food for this celebration includes fish, noodles, and dumplings.

Since the Chinese calendar is also based on lunar cycles, the date changes yearly. Each year is also assigned an animal according to the Chines Zodiac. This year Chinese New Year begins on February 8, 2016 and is the year of the monkey! Here are some fun activities for kids to do!


Jennifer is a former special education teacher and mentor. She obtained her bachelor's degree at Kent State University in Ohio. She enjoys dancing, reading and spending time training her dog, BrunoMars. 

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