When October hits, classroom themes quickly turn into pumpkins and bats to prepare for Halloween. Halloween passes, and leaves, cornucopias and turkeys take their spots until Thanksgiving. But once December 1st rolls around, we see a surplus of candy canes, pine trees and snowmen ready to ring in Christmas time.
But what if all of your students don’t celebrate Christmas? How can we ensure that all of the holidays our students get excited for are represented in the classroom? Well, by teaching about them of course!
Below you will find a comprehensive list of both religious and non-religious holidays celebrated between December and February as well as some of my favorite ways to teach about them.
Days of Celebration
**Note: This is NOT every holiday/day of celebration that exists. If you have a student who celebrates a holiday not on this list, feel free to include it in your classroom in whatever way you see fit.**
December 2021 Holidays
November 29- December 6: Chanukah
2nd: Special Education Day
13th: National Ice Cream Day/ International Children’s Day
16th-24th: Las Posadas
21st: Winter Solstice (First Day of Winter/Shortest Day of the Year)
24th: Christmas Eve
25th: Christmas Day
26th-January 2nd: Kwanzaa
31st: New Years Eve
January 2022 Holidays
1st: New Years Day
4th: National Trivia Day
6th: Three Kings Day
17th: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
25th: Opposite Day
February 2022 Holidays
1st: Lunar New Year
2nd: Groundhogs Day
9th: National Pizza Day
14th: Valentine’s Day
21st: President’s Day
26th: Fairytale Day
Resources to Teach about Holidays
There are TONS of activities on TeachersPayTeachers.com. Look through and see what catches your eye. Many of the resources have books, coloring pages and guided activities about some of the holidays I mentioned. In the past, I have used this resource to teach my students about Christmas, Chanukah (or Hanukkah) and Kwanzaa.
My go to is always a read aloud. There are so many children’s books about different holidays. This site (and the other site linked) have a lot of interesting books about many different holidays. I am looking forward to introducing a few of these to my class this year.
Cooking using visual recipes is another great way to incorporate holiday celebrations in your classroom.
Songs are also a great way to introduce and talk about holidays your students may not know about. This blog links a ton of different songs and activities for you to show your students.
Many of these resources, sites and activities include Diwali as a winter holiday even though it takes place in October or November (depending on the year). Diwali has some subtle similarities to Chanukah. Both are referred to as “The Festival of Lights”.
The Most Important Thing
The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration, togetherness and love. No matter what you or your students celebrate, make sure that they feel welcomed, safe and secure in their classroom. The holiday time can bring up a lot of emotions for adults and children alike. Experiencing the first holiday without a loved one, financial strain around presents, and/or food insecurity all arise during this time of year. Many students with special needs may be overstimulated by the decorations or holiday music. Find some resources here of how to support your and your students social-emotional wellbeing during the holidays.
Be patient, be gracious and have a very happy everything.