Winter Holidays - Celebrations of Light

Now that the weather is chilly and nightfall is arriving so early in the evening, candles and lights are a welcome remedy to the darkness.  Since ancient times, light has been a huge part of many winter celebrations and holidays around the world.  Let students explore the role of light in familiar and foreign traditions this holiday season.

December 13th is St. Lucia Day, which is celebrated in eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Italy and some Caribbean countries.  Candles are an important symbol on St. Lucia Day when they are often used in wreaths, either as decoration or as a candlelit crown for the traditional Lucia procession.

Students can create their own candlelit crown with instructions from Kiddley.

Yule was first celebrated by the Norse, but its traditions have been incorporated into Christmas and other winter holidays.  In many cultures, festivals took place as long as the yule log burned -- often up to several days since the large, slow-burning logs were selected.

Visit Pretty Little Things to learn how to make mini Yule logs out of cardboard tubes.

Hanukkah is another celebration of light that is observed by Jewish people for eight days each winter beginning on 25 Kislev. Candles are lit on a menorah in remembrance of the miracle oil that burned at the temple in Jerusalem for eight days after it was reclaimed from Greece.

Creative Jewish Mom has instructions for this recycled cardboard menorah craft.
Younger students can practice ordinal numbers while counting the eight days of Hanukkah.

Christmas lights have been used to decorate trees for hundreds of years.  Visit White House history to learn about the first White House Christmas tree that used lights to decorate its branches in 1895 during Grover Cleveland's administration.

Challenge students to design a Christmas light decoration using repurposed materials, like this tomato cage Christmas tree I made.  To make your own, just flip a tomato cage upside-down and then wrap it with lights and garland.

Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year.  All around the world since ancient times festivals and celebrations have included lights on the day with the fewest hours of sunlight.

Make a solstice mobile with Cre8tivegirl's printable.

  Students can compare and contrast the celebrations after learning about each one.


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