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Appreciating Cultures: Celebrate Holidays and Traditions Around the World

In today's interconnected world, where diversity is not just a concept but a daily reality, educators must foster a sense of global understanding and cultural appreciation among their students. One way to achieve this is by delving into the holidays and traditions shaping our society. 

By bringing these celebrations into the classroom, teachers have an opportunity to spark curiosity, promote empathy, and cultivate an environment where students can appreciate our world's diversity.

The Value of Celebrating Global Traditions in the Classroom

Imagine a classroom buzzing with excitement as students learn about Diwali, the Festival of Lights celebrated by millions in India and around the world. They listen in rapt attention as the story of Rama and Sita unfolds, understanding the significance of light triumphing over darkness and good prevailing over evil. Or picture students creating colorful papel picado banners during a Día de los Muertos lesson, honoring the Mexican tradition of remembering and celebrating departed loved ones. These immersive experiences teach about cultures and instill a deep respect for differences and a recognition of shared human values.

When students participate in learning about diverse holidays and traditions, they broaden their horizons beyond their immediate surroundings. They realize that people across the globe share common emotions, dreams, and aspirations, despite the outward differences in customs and practices. This realization fosters a sense of global citizenship and helps dismantle stereotypes and prejudices.

Exploring Holidays and Traditions

There's a trove of holidays and traditions, each offering insights into various cultures. Consider incorporating these celebrations into your classroom to create engaging and enlightening learning experiences:

Chinese New Year

Invite students to discover the wonders of the lunar calendar and the vibrant festivities that mark the start of the Chinese New Year. They can learn about the significance of the zodiac animals, create their own lanterns, and even enjoy traditional treats like dumplings.


Explore the story behind the Festival of Lights and its importance to the Jewish community. Students can engage in activities like crafting menorahs or playing the dreidel game while understanding the symbolism of light and perseverance.

Eid al-Fitr

Teach students about the joyous Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting and reflection. Encourage them to understand the values of empathy, gratitude, and charity while creating colorful cards or decorations.

Thanksgiving Around the World

While the American Thanksgiving is well-known, many cultures have similar celebrations of gratitude. Dive into the Korean Chuseok, the German Erntedankfest, or the Canadian Thanksgiving, and help students recognize the universal significance of giving thanks.


Explore the exuberant Indian festival of colors, where people come together to celebrate the arrival of spring. Students can learn about the triumph of good over evil, participate in color throwing, and understand the importance of forgiveness.


Introduce students to the lively and diverse traditions of Carnival celebrated in various countries, from the vibrant parades of Rio de Janeiro to the masked festivities in Venice. They can create their own masks and learn about the history and cultural expressions behind these celebrations.

Fostering Cultural Appreciation

It's essential to approach exploring holidays and traditions with sensitivity and respect. Here are some tips to ensure that the experience is both educational and culturally appropriate:

  • Research Thoroughly: Before introducing a holiday or tradition, conduct thorough research to portray its significance, history, and customs accurately. Avoid perpetuating stereotypes or misinformation.

  • Involve the Community: Whenever possible, involve members of the cultural communities you're exploring. Guest speakers, local events, or virtual interactions can provide firsthand insights and create authentic learning experiences.

  • Encourage Critical Thinking: While celebrating diversity, encourage students to reflect on the deeper meanings of these celebrations. What do they reveal about human values, relationships, and the natural world?

  • Comparison and Contrast: Explore similarities and differences between various holidays and traditions. This helps students understand how cultures intersect and how traditions can be a source of unity.

  • Creative Expression: Incorporate hands-on activities that allow students to create art, crafts, or food related to the celebrations. This enhances their engagement and understanding.

  • Open Dialogue: Create a safe space for open discussions about cultural practices, beliefs, and respecting differences.

Teaching Global Citizens

Celebrating holidays and traditions worldwide is a valuable endeavor that nurtures cultural appreciation, empathy, and global understanding. By engaging students in these experiences, educators play a pivotal role in shaping future generations who embrace diversity and contribute positively to a harmonious world.


Written by Brooke Lektorich

Education World Contributor

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