The winter solstice marks the two times the sun’s path is the farthest south in the Northern Hemisphere (late December) and the farthest north in the Southern Hemisphere (late June). In other words, it’s the shortest day and the longest night of the year! The winter solstice has inspired celebrations and rituals worldwide since the beginning of time. While different cultures celebrate in different ways, they all welcome the “sun’s rebirth” and the return of the light.
As the days shorten and the weather turns cold and crisp, families are warming up with their winter holiday celebrations. Candles, lights, sweets and gifts highlight this time of year in many cultures around the world.
Although celebrating specific religious traditions is not permitted in most classrooms in America, there is no reason for teachers to avoid winter holidays all together. In fact, teaching about winter traditions can be a wonderful way to help bilingual children, in particular, feel even more comfortable and included in the classroom setting. The overall focus should be on helping students appreciate both the diversity and similarities of our global traditions.