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Daddy Nickell Tips for Culturally Enriching Holidays

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The holidays are a festive time of year for many reasons, more than just holiday giving. Learning about cultural differences from our own enhances your children's lives. If you live in a metropolitan area, your children may be exposed to many different religions and cultures. If you do not live in a culturally diverse area, it may be more difficult for your kids to learn about other people’s customs and beliefs.

Daddy Nickell believes it’s important to create teachable moments to help kids learn the value of other religious/cultural traditions and what better time to talk about it then the holiday season. He has created a list of ideas to bring about conversation as well as activities to really bring the lesson home.

Daddy Nickell Shares Ideas to Teach Kids about International Holidays

Although we don't all share the same religious beliefs, it is still incredibly important that we teach our children to respect other faiths, traditions, values and customs, and that this season is just not about holiday giving. A few ways to accomplish this:

Break it down into three steps:

  1. Meet with someone who knows and celebrates the holiday you are studying. If possible, find someone who actually celebrates the holidays listed below and have your child sit down for a conversation with him or her. They will learn more from someone who believes and follows the holiday tradition and religions than they ever will off the Internet.
  2. Learn the true meaning behind each holiday rather than discussing only the tidbits we might already know about it.
  3. Do a craft to help your child go deeper.

Christmas: Read the Biblical version of the Christmas story. Remind your older children that Santa stems from stories of people who shared with the less fortunate and that the holiday is as much about giving as it is about receiving.

Hanukkah: Focus on the story of the Maccabees and their fight for freedom. Remind them that the eight candles are not only to receive one gift each day, but they actually represent the miracle the Maccabees experienced at the Temple.

Kwanzaa: Find books and stories of Kwanzaa’s importance to the African-American culture. This celebration honors African heritage and culminates with a large feast. Consider recreating the feast as a way to celebrate Kwanzaa with your children.

Saint Nicholas Day: The original Santa Claus! St. Nick has different legends in several European countries so read them all and give your kids a chance to experience Santa in a whole new way. Have your kids set their shoe in front of the chimney to see if St. Nicholas will leave a treat! .

Las Posadas: The Hispanic celebration of the Virgin Mary and her selfless act of carrying Jesus. Mostly celebrated in Mexico and Central America, it is celebrated the 9 days before Christmas and reenacts the journey Joseph and Mary took. The poinsettia has great significance in this holiday and can be used as representation.

Crafts are an excellent way to engage children and help them understand each holiday. Remember to explore the religious reason for the holiday, not the commercial one.

Christmas: Create a manger and talk about Jesus’ selfless act of becoming human.

Hanukkah: Create or color a Menorah. As you create it talk through what each colored candle represents.

Kwanzaa: Make paper Kwanzaa candles. Celebrate with a feast and have each child bring a traditional food item.

Saint Nicholas Day: Create St. Nicholas Day cards and deliver them to friends, relatives, nursing homes, etc… thanking people for their kind actions throughout the year.

Las Posadas: Create a “hand poinsettia.” Handprints represent the 9 leaves on their poinsettia. The 9 leaves represent the 9 months Joseph and Mary prepared for the coming of Jesus.

Remember, you are trying to teach your child the significance of each holiday and its importance to that religion, beyond just the holiday giving. Many adults, who have been celebrating these holidays their entire lives, do not know (or have forgotten) the true meaning behind many holidays. Most likely, you will learn as much as your child. Tolerance, understanding, appreciation and respect are lessons anyone can learn.

These tips by:
Robert Nickell (a.k.a. Daddy Nickell), father of 7, offers his "5 cents" worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder ofDaddyScrubs.com, delivery room duds, gifts, and apparel for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog, where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad's perspective.

About Daddy Nickell
For his blog, Nickell writes from a father’s perspective on topics such as bonding with your child and what the father should expect during pregnancy and infancy. Daddy Nickell also contributes his parenting expertise to national talk shows and daytime television shows. He has been featured on “Good Morning L.A.,” “Good Morning Texas,” “Daytime TV" ABC15 Phoenix, MSNBC, WZZM 13, San Antonio Living, KSBI TV, and as a syndicated columnist for national newspapers, parenting magazines and websites including Baby Couture Magazine, Oh Baby! Magazine, City Parent Magazine, The Bump, Parenthood, and Homeschooling Parent.

You can also see DaddyScrubs on YouTube, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter (@DaddyScrubs) and Pinterest!

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