Let's Celebrate!

Let's Celebrate!

Around the world, people like to celebrate. Some eat large meals together, tell stories, put on parades, play sports or go shopping. Read below to find out more about how people celebrate throughout the month of December.

Sweden: On December 13, a celebration of light brightens the long, dark Scandinavian winter. St. Lucia Day festivities include wreaths of candles, children in white robes with red sashes, wands with stars at the end of them, and gingerbread cookies.

Mexico: The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12. This is the day that honors the reported appearance of the Virgin Mary to a peasant man in Mexico in 1531. 

Israel:  Hanukkah is a festival of lights that is celebrated by Jewish people in Israel and around the world. Each night, for eight nights, a candle on the menorah is lit. The candles represent a miracle of oil that should have only lasted for one night and instead lasted for eight nights. Children receive small gifts and play with a dreidel (spinning top).

Germany: The Christmas Markets of Germany are known around the world. They conjure up thoughts of handmade items sold from quaint wooden booths, the smell of gingerbread wafting through the crisp December air, and the sound of Christmas songs. Each German Christmas Market has its own personality. Some are loud and full of entertainment including fire dancers, while others are more historic and food-focused, or geared toward children.

Egypt: Mawlid el-Nabi is the day that Muslims around the world celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam. This holiday is celebrated not with gifts, but with readings of poems and narratives about his life, communal meals and marches and parades.

United Kingdom: People in the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) celebrate Christmas, but they have another post-Christmas celebration that many Americans have never heard of! It’s called Boxing Day. It became a holiday nearly 200 years ago. Traditionally, people would give their servants boxed presents on the day after Christmas. This was done as a thank you for the hard work the servants had done all year. In modern times, it is a day for major sports events and post-holiday sales.


Teach your child about the wonderful variety of ways people around the world celebrate. You could check out books on making gifts, and give your child the chance to create a unique, thoughtful gift for friends and family.

Activities could include:

  • Check out a book that includes recipes from other parts of the world. Have your child help you cook one of the dishes. If they don’t appeal to you, alter the ingredients and create something that your family will love!
  • Watch an online video about Christmas markets in Germany. Feeling adventurous? Visit the Christkindlmarket in Chicago and soak in the American version of this German favorite.
  • Create a wand, with a paper star on the end, to celebrate St. Lucia day on December 13.


Check out some of these holiday related books:

Make Your Own Gifts

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama  by Selina Alko

The Lady of Guadalupe by Tomie DePaola

Strega Nona’s Gift by Tomie DePaola

Christmas in Sweden  by Cheryl L. Enderlein

Christmas Traditions Around the World by Ann Ingalls

Reindeer Crunch and Other Christmas Recipes by Kristi Johnson

Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel

Simon and the Bear by Eric A. Kimmel

Christmas in Germany  by Jack Manning

Muslim Festival Tales by Kerena Marchant

Eight Winter Nights by Laura Krauss Melmed

The Beautiful Lady by Pat Mora

Hanukkah by Trudi Strain Trueit

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