Because my students come from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, we cannot merely focus on one winter holiday, nor are we discouraged from celebrating any holidays. Instead, we celebrate and study many. The halls are filled with the smell of latkes and Christmas cookies; Nursery and Lower School classes make decorations for a "Hands Around the World" theme that brighten the school's main Lobby; and children, families and teachers gather before school for a seasonal sing-along. Our Lobby displays a Christmas tree, a menorah, and a kinara. We learn about the holidays celebrated in our own class and the parents (better experts than me) plan activities, read stories, and share traditions. We participate in food, clothing, and toy drives. We celebrate our diversity and our community.
Later this week, we are going on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry to see their annual holiday exhibits Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, a look at winter celebrations that feature light and enlightenment. Their site contains great information about holiday customs and traditions from around the world. Here are some books that also include these holidays and celebrations of the winter solstice: