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Keep these December holidays on your list

December 5, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Keep these December holidays on your list

One of the great things about living in a country with people who practice so many religions and come from so many countries and cultures is learning about their traditions and sharing in their holiday celebrations. December is a busy time for many religions and cultures, why not plan at least one activity around a tradition, religion, or culture outside of your own? Here are some ideas:

Hanukkah—December 12–20
Bring a dreidel toy home and play throughout the week. At the end of each game, the child with the most gelt, candy coins that represent charity, wins.

Las Posadas—December 16–24
Join or host a Las Posadas celebration with other families. The kids can join in that night's procession, break star-shaped piñatas, and everyone can enjoy traditional foods like tamales, warm punch, and hot chocolate.

Winter Solstice—December 21
Each culture has a different way of celebrating the winter solstice, so find a festivity in your neighborhood. Expect feasting, singing, and dancing, and maybe even a bonfire. 

Christmas—December 25
Santa has become a Christmas favorite for kids of many religions, but the reason Christians celebrate Christmas is to honor Jesus Christ's birthday. Throughout his life, Jesus was charitable and giving. If Santa brings gifts to your children this year, ask them to donate some of their old toys to kids who are less fortunate. 

Kwanzaa—December 26–January 1
As families and cultures merge, hold on to traditions from your family's past and teach them to your child. Just as each day of Kwanzaa focuses on a principle that is part of the African heritage, you can focus on your family's culture and history, whether it's an African, European, Asian, South American, or Native American. Teach your child about his or her ancestors and what they overcame to live their life and have a family that led to your family today.

Don't forget other big holidays coming up in the first half of 2018­. Chinese New Year is on January 28, Purim begins February 28, Passover begins March 30, Easter is on April 1, and Ramadan begins May 15.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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It's National Hispanic Heritage Month!

September 19, 2017

By Jessica Vician

It's National Hispanic Heritage Month!

Since 1988, the United States has celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Most of the time when we honor a specific heritage over 30 to 31 days, it takes place within one month, but not National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Why does this celebration occur during the last half of September and the first half of October? The answer lies in what we are honoring in that 30-day period.

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16. But National Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t only honor Mexican-Americans. We also celebrate the histories and cultures of Americans with ancestral backgrounds from Spain, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Many of the countries in those areas celebrate significant days that fall between the 15th of September and the 15th of October. For example, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica all celebrate their independence days on September 15. Chile celebrates on September 18.

On October 12, many of these Spanish-speaking countries celebrate día de la raza (Day of the Race), which is referred to as Columbus Day in English and the U.S. On this day, we remember what happened after Christopher Columbus landed in the now-Bahamas. Notably, the multi-cultural society we live in today is the result of the blending of European and indigenous cultures throughout North, Central, and South America.

These are just four dates in Hispanic history, but due to the importance of each of them and the celebrations we hold around them, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage Month in this unique manner as the 30 days between September 15 and October 15.

At YOU Parent, we encourage you to share these stories of independence and celebration with your children. How have you honored National Hispanic Heritage Month? Tell us in the comments below.

Tags :  holidaysculture
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A Lesson for Each Holiday

December 20, 2016

By Jessica Vician

A Lesson for Each Holiday | An illustration depicting a dreidel, pointed start piñata, Kwanzaa candles, Christmas tree, and more.

This is a big week for December holidays. We're in the middle of Las Posadas, Hanukkah begins on the 24th, Christmas Day is on the 25th, and Kwanzaa begins on the 26th.

Each holiday has many lessons worth sharing with your child for better understanding of other cultures, religions, and a common goal to be kind and respectful to others. I have identified one for each holiday, but invite you to share your favorite lessons in the comments below.

Las Posadas
When you're in need, ask for help. Not everyone will help you, but the people who do are worth remembering and thanking.

Las Posadas honors the journey of Mary and Joseph the night Jesus was born, when they asked many strangers for shelter. While most could or would not help them, the people who allowed them to stay in their manger showed the family great kindness.

Teach your child that it doesn't hurt to ask for help, and to never give up if in need. Always thank those who show him or her kindness and offer help. In return, provide help to those in need whenever possible.

Hanukkah
Patience and faith will be rewarded.

Families light one candle each night for eight days during Hanukkah, which commemorates the Maccabee miracle when one day's worth of oil lasted eight days. After those eight days, the Jewish people were able to rededicate their holy temple.

When your child is impatient or struggles with doing the right thing because it is more difficult, remind him or her that patience and faith will be rewarded and it is better to have faith than lose it.

Christmas
Giving to others is the best gift for the world.

Christians exchange gifts on Christmas just as the three wise men brought gifts to Mary and Joseph after the birth of Jesus. They also give to emulate Jesus' charity throughout his life and death.

Teach your child that giving to those you care about demonstrates love and thanks, and giving to strangers in need demonstrates a caring and charitable spirit.

Kwanzaa
Celebrate your heritage.

As families and cultures merge, hold on to traditions from your family's past and teach them to your child. Just as each day of Kwanzaa focuses on a principle that is part of the African heritage, you can focus on your family's culture and history, whether it's an African, European, Asian, South American, or Native American. Teach your child about his or her ancestors and what they overcame to live their life and have a family that led to your family today.

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4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas

December 13, 2016

By Jessica Vician

4 Family Activities to Celebrate Las Posadas | A pointed star piñata waits to be hit by children on Las Posadas.

What is your family doing to celebrate Las Posadas this year? We have four ideas for family activities that range from educational and fun to delicious and filling.

Las Posadas Learning Activity
Teach your toddler or early elementary student about Las Posadas by sharing the symbolism of the poinsettia, the story of Las Posadas, and the traditional way of celebrating in Mexico.

This Las Posadas activity from Scholastic is designed for a classroom but would be fun at home or at a party.

DIY Nativity Scene Toys
A nativity scene can be found in many Christian households during the holidays, but often, the pieces that make up the nativity scene are fragile and not to be touched.

Encourage your child to learn Mary and Joseph's story on the night of Jesus' birth while letting him or her play with a kid-friendly nativity scene that you make together. Mommy Maestra has a great DIY tutorial on making your own nativity scene.

Gather the Kids for a Play
Tap into their inner performer and encourage your kids and their friends to put on a play that tells the Las Posadas story. Gather the adults for an audience and share your parent pride with applause!

Recipes for Las Posadas
Celebrate Las Posadas with traditional Mexican recipes that will warm your family's hearts and bellies. Latino Foodie has recipes for chile verde pork tamales, chipotle-glazed ham, Oaxacan pollo almendrado, and pan dulce. ¡Que rico!

Ask your children to help prepare the meal by giving them age-appropriate tasks. Young ones can stir or set the table, while teenagers can do prep work like cutting vegetables. Let everyone help to keep the family close and the holiday spirit alive.

How does your family celebrate Las Posadas? Share your traditions in the comments below.

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How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family?

December 6, 2016

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can we start a holiday tradition for our own family? | A young girl helps her mother make holiday cookies.

Question: My 6-year-old daughter wants to start a new holiday tradition. She said she wants one that's just for our family. I'm stumped on ideas. Can you think of an activity we can start that will grow with our family as we get older?

Answer: It's wonderful that your daughter takes pride in your family and wants to do something that will bring you closer. Her request reminds us that even though the holidays are busy, it's important to dedicate some time or an activity to your immediate family, and in this case, your daughter.

We have a few ideas for traditions that will hold up as she matures—they might even stay with you if you become a grandparent one day!

Ornament Exchange
Choose a date during the holidays for an ornament exchange. Each family member can spend the week prior making or buying an ornament. After a special lunch or dinner, put the wrapped ornaments in a pile. Draw numbers, and let the person who drew number one choose the first ornament. In order of their number drawn, each person unwraps an ornament, keeping it for him or herself or trading it for another one. Then, the family puts their new ornaments on the tree together.

Holiday Market Visit
Set a date each year, like the first Saturday in December, to visit a holiday market as a family. It might not be the same market each year—if you have a lot of options in your area, you may want to make a rule to never repeat. While your daughter is young, choose a market with activities or shops for children. The activities might change as your daughter grows up, but the warm feeling of being surrounded by holiday traditions, smells, and your family will stay the same.

The Nutcracker
See a performance of The Nutcracker every year together. There are many performances in various price ranges, from professional ballets in big cities to college performances to dance school recitals. Choose one in your budget and expose your daughter to a dance form not often shown on television or YouTube these days.

Borrow Traditions from Other Cultures and Religions
Do you celebrate Christmas? Borrow the candle-lighting tradition from Hanukkah and teach your daughter about why Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah. Do you celebrate Hanukkah? Borrow the principals of Kwanzaa to teach your daughter about community. SheKnows has a great list of global traditions that you can incorporate into your new family tradition while teaching your daughter about other cultures and religions.

Do our readers have suggestions for fun family traditions that grow with your kids? Share in the comments below.

For more family-focused holiday fun, read our 5 Must-Do Holiday Family Activities article.

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