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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

Celebrating the December Holidays

Celebrating the December HolidaysDecember offers an amazing opportunity to teach your children about other cultures. Through the month of December, there is a wide range of holidays that have different meanings to different individuals, whether you choose to celebrate them yourself or to simply give your kids a taste of what it's like to celebrate the traditions of other cultures. 


Hanukkah is the Jewish celebration of the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred in the second century B.C. Hanukkah offers a wide range of fascinating traditions, which include:

  • Lighting a menorah in celebration of the miracle of oil, in which a single day's supply lasted for eight days
  • Sharing chocolate coins, or gelt
  • Cooking up a wide range of tasty foods, including latkes and rugelach
  • Spinning the dreidel for a fun, traditional Hanukkah game
  • Sharing gifts with loved ones throughout the holiday

If you're hoping to introduce your child to Hanukkah or to celebrate more effectively together, there are some fun craft ideas that can add a little fun to your celebration. Check out this handprint menorah, which is a great opportunity to talk about the miracle of the oil together, or try making an easy Star of David out of craft sticks. Don't forget to head into the kitchen to whip up your own traditional Hanukkah recipes!


Kwanzaa, which is celebrated from December 26 to January 1, is a celebration of African-American culture and heritage. Each of the seven days of the celebration focuses one of seven core values:

  • Umoja, or Unity
  • Kujichagulia, or Self-Determination
  • Ujima, or Collective Work and Responsibility
  • Ujamaa, or Cooperative Economics
  • Nia, or Purpose
  • Kuumba, or Creativity
  • Imani, or Faith

Celebrating Kwanzaa starts by bringing out the Kwanzaa flag and decorating the home with posters reflecting the seven principles. Consider crafting African drums out of Styrofoam cups and bringing out traditional Kwanzaa songs that will help spread knowledge and teach about these important principles that have so shaped the African-American culture. 


Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. As a religious holiday, it is shaped by the nativity: a simple stable scene that represents what it might have been like when Christ was born. Christmas celebrations include a number of familiar tenets:

  • Great foods, from Christmas cookies and holiday candies to a wide range of family dishes 
  • Christmas carols, which are often shared with others through caroling trips no matter what the December weather
  • The giving of gifts on December 25 to celebrate the birth of Christ and come together as a family
  • Decorating a tree together, decorations traditionally placed on the tree - which is regarded by Christians as a symbol of life - may have specific cultural meaning or meaning to the individual family 
  • Candlelight services that speak of the hope of Christ and the church's hope for the coming year 

Celebrating Christmas with your family can take on many forms, whether you'd like to create a "Jesus in the manger" fingerprint scene with a little one or create a stained glass nativity for a little extra fun in building fine motor skills. 

Creating your own winter holiday traditions as a family is a wonderful way to grow closer to one another and create shared memories that will impact your holidays for years to come. No matter what holiday you celebrate yourselves, offering your child a look at other cultures will help to improve their overall understanding and widen their view of the world during this magical time of year. By incorporating a few additional holiday traditions into your celebration, you may find a new way to celebrate with your whole family.

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Topics: Holidays, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, December, Christmas