Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Sarah McCubbin
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One of the best things to do when the snow flies is to be intentional with winter holidays to celebrate with kids. Everyone is cooped up in the house for days on end and that can start to make everyone feel a little stir crazy. Holidays are the perfect way to practice social skills and life skills this winter while also learning about religious and cultural holidays.
One of the best things about holidays is the opportunity to take a break from your current form of learning…even for an afternoon…to do something different that is part of one of these winter holidays.
I have a 6 boys and 2 of them went to a very hands-on Waldorf school for a year. It always makes me smile when one of them is excited to make the very time intensive Stollen bread that is a German custom at Christmas. He doesn’t cook often but he will make several batches around Thanksgiving….some to eat and some to give away.
And all our kids enjoy celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year. I used to teach English to Chinese students online and love that culture. Lunar New Year is something we all look forward to for the delicious foods, local festivals and great conversation.
Winter Holidays to Celebrate With Kids
When: Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas…right at the end of November.
It is a time of preparation for Christmas, reflecting anticipation and hope of the coming birth of Jesus. While most scholars agree that Jesus was not likely born on December 25th, the season of Advent is a wonderful time to remember the story of God’s work in the lives of men on earth.
Our family celebrates advent with a spiral advent wreath that has 25 candles. We light another one each day as we are closer to Christmas and read a different Bible story with our kids each night.
Advent Activity Ideas:
- Bible Stories: Read Bible stories associated with Advent, emphasizing waiting and hope.
- Advent Wreath: Discuss the symbolism of its circle shape, candles, and colors.
- Daily Reflections: Use Advent calendars to teach patience and daily reflections.
- Create and Advent Book Calendar With All Your Favorite Christmas Books
2. St. Lucia Day
St. Lucia’s Day is a Scandinavian holiday that celebrates light during the darkest time of the year. It’s an enchanting holiday to introduce your kids to cultural traditions. Here’s how to celebrate St. Lucia’s Day:
- Candle Crowns: Make candle crowns or wreaths for the kids to wear as they represent St. Lucia.
- Baking Saffron Buns: Bake traditional saffron buns or other Scandinavian treats with your kids.
- Read: Kirsten’s Surprise in the American Girl Books
- Learn about St. Lucia: Teach your kids about the story of St. Lucia and the significance of the holiday.
When: December 25
In Christian traditions, Christmas is the time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. While it is unlikely that Jesus was actually born on this day, it is when Christian around the world celebrate. Over time, is has gathered many cultural traditions that include Santa Clause, Christmas trees, baked goods, gifts and much more!
Activities with Kids:
- History & Significance: Read the Christmas Story in Luke 2:1-20
- Decorating the Tree: Delve into the history of Christmas trees, from Germany’s medieval times to modern living rooms. Let your children understand the significance of each ornament and where this symbol of Christmas came from.
- Baking Delights: Bake your family’s favorite cookies, breads and more. Talk about where the recipes came from and who taught you how to make them.
- Gift-giving: Beyond Santa Claus, teach children about Jesus and the best gift that God gave to the world.
When: Date varies
Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration, reflecting the miracle of the Maccabees’ victory and the miracle of the oil.
Activities With Kids :
- Tales of Maccabees: Learn true story of how Judah Maccabee rallied his family and friends and miraculously defeated the Syrians.
- Menorah Lighting Ritual: Discuss the symbolism of each candle.
- Dreidel Game: Teach children the Hebrew letters on the Dreidel and their meanings.
When: December 26 – January 1
Created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa celebrates African heritage, emphasizing community, culture, and historical connections.m
Activities With Kids:
- Seven Principles: Discuss the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles, and their relevance in today’s world.
- Kinara Lighting: Talk about the candle colors, their meanings, and how they reflect African culture.
- Music & Dance: Dive into African rhythms and movements, allowing children to appreciate and participate.
- Make Food!: Prepare Traditional Kwanzaa foods!
7. New Year’s Eve and Day
When: December 31 – January 1
A fresh start, new resolutions, and joyous celebrations.
Deep Dive with Kids:
- History of Celebrating New Year: Delve into the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the history of New Year celebrations.
- Global Celebrations: Discuss how different countries ring in the New Year.
- Resolution Building: Help kids understand goal setting and the tradition of resolutions.
8. Chinese Lunar New Year
When: Date varies
A new beginning based on the lunar calendar, celebrated in many Asian countries, with dragons, lanterns, and feasts.
Deep Dive with Kids:
- Zodiac Tales: Introduce kids to the 12 zodiac animals and their legends.
- Lantern Festival: Discuss the significance of light and the stories behind the lanterns.
- Culinary Exploration: Dive deep into dishes like dumplings and mooncakes, discussing their historical significance.
9. Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day, celebrated on February 2nd, is a quirky holiday where a groundhog predicts the weather. It’s a fun and educational celebration for kids. Here’s how to make Groundhog Day exciting:
- Watch the Prediction: Tune in to the news or follow the official Groundhog Day festivities to see if the groundhog sees its shadow.
- Predict the Weather: Have your kids make their own weather predictions and compare them to the groundhog’s.
- Groundhog Crafts: Engage in groundhog-themed arts and crafts, like making groundhog puppets or masks.
- Groundhog Day Stories: Read stories about groundhogs and their role in predicting spring.
10. Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is all about love, and what better way to celebrate than with your children? Here’s how to make Valentine’s Day special for your kids:
- Homemade Cards: Help your kids create handmade Valentine’s Day cards for family members and friends.
- Baking Treats: Bake heart-shaped cookies or cupcakes together and decorate them.
- Make Valentines for Your Family: Write heartfelt notes or letters to your kids, sharing what you love and appreciate about them.
Tag: valentinesCranberry Valentine by Wende and Harry DevlinThe Valentine Bears by Eve BuntingSaint Valentine by Robert SabudaThe Berenstain Bears' Valentine BlessingsHappy Valentine's Day, Curious George! N. Di AngeloGrumpy Monkey Valentine Gross-Out Suzanne LangTurkey's Valentine Surprise by Wendi Silvano
Winter Holidays Are the Perfect Mix of Celebration and Skills
Winter holidays to celebrate with kids are the perfect way to break up the winter madness and mix in learning. If you find yourself burned out with regular learning mid winter, focusing on holidays is the perfect way to add some excitement that everyone can enjoy. Food…films…books and more are all wonderful ways to learn about holidays!