How to Teach Holiday Traditions in the Classroom with a Focus on International Diversity

All around the world people have special holiday traditions and the classroom is often a micro-culture of the world at large representing many different world cultures and internationa diversity. Each country or culture has their own festivals, celebrations, and holidays that are important to that culture.

With all the different representations of culture in the classroom teachers can easily teach holiday traditions by having their students actively contribute what they know about their cultural holiday traditions.

If the children are all of one culture, but have different background cultures, such as Americans are all of the American culture, but each American has a different family background steeped in history from around the world, children can be told to do a little research about their family background to discover how their families celebrated certain holidays.

Teaching children from the same culture but with different background cultures

1) Each child can tell how they celebrate Christmas or any traditional holiday, representative of their culture, What kind of meal they have and how they give gifts and have families visit. For each child it will be a little different.

2) For each holiday within the culture of the country where the teacher teaches, the teacher can give background information on the holiday and how it is celebrated in different cultures or countries giving a real focus to international diversity.

Teaching children from different cultures

If the children in a classroom are from varying and diverse cultures, each child can write up a little story or essay about their holidays and how they are celebrated and present to the class. The teacher can do a follow-up on the different holiday traditions.

1) One good way to teach about celebrating holiday traditions is through food. Most cultures celebrate their holidays through special festivals with special foods that are cooked for that holiday. The teacher can have an international ethnic picnic or food day, where children bring a covered dish representative of their holiday tradition. Parents can be invited. The teacher can do a follow-up on the different foods brought to the classroom.

There are various international cookbooks available that list the various celebrations around the world with the foods that are eaten during that celebration. One such book is Feasts for all Seasons which gives an international focus to its recipes featuring recipes, festivals, and holidays from many different cultures – India, China, Russia, and America to name a few.

2) Teachers can also find out what different cultures are represented in the classroom and in their lesson plans teach about each of the different holidays and traditons for each culture. The teacher could use a cookbook like “Feasts for all Seasons” to plan a special menu for that day, so that all children in the classroom can enjoy something of that holiday tradition. The teacher can plan a lesson plan for each culture to last a week or one day depending on how much she wants the children to learn about that culture and their holiday traditons.

3) With regard to food, teachers could invite cooks or restaurant owners as the speaker for the class on holiday traditions from particular cultures. Parents representative of a particular culture or holiday tradition could also be invited as speakers.

Teachers also have available teaching materials that will give them international recipes from different cultures. They can use maps, movies and documentaries, to teach about holiday traditions specific to certain cultures. Most cookbooks when giving regional recipes usually also give historical information about the region which teachers can use to help teach about holiday traditions.

In conclusion, whether teaching holiday traditions about one culture infused by many cultures, or teaching many differnt holiday traditions from many different cultures, teachers can utilize their classroom populations with the varying cultures represented to teach holiday traditions that are special to the students involved giving each child recognition in their special culture and also having them learn about the cultures and holiday traditions of their peers.


Andries de Groot, Roy, Feasts for all Seasons, Alfred A. Knoff, New York, 1966.