Learning across cultures and religions to celebrate the winter holidays together
November/December is a festive time of year because so many holidays are celebrated by people from different religious and cultural backgrounds. For us as a school, these celebrations offer excellent opportunities to teach about culture, religion and their historical importance. During the winter holiday season – mostly concentrated in December – we may celebrate St. Martin, Diwali, Nikolaus (in many variations), Lucia, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year, Three Kings Day, and sometimes also Ramadan (though not this year).
For us at CIS/IFK, it is important to focus on more than one holiday and to also not simplify traditions, such as “this is how the Germans celebrate Christmas”; once we start taking a closer look, we find many differences between regions, age groups, family traditions and personal taste. It’s important to acknowledge this as the reality of cultural practices and traditions. Also, the religious background of a holiday might be more important to some, and less important to others. We encourage and welcome students and families to share their personal experiences, to look for differences and similarities, to appreciate new perspectives and familiar themes.
We are fortunate to have such a wide variety of real-life experiences to draw from right here at school, therefore allowing our children to naturally become open-minded and informed about other cultures and traditions. In addition to having these opportunities in class, our religious education team further focuses on showing the children the parallels and similarities between the different religious celebrations.
As we have come to find out, many of the winter holidays share common themes: they are all about coming together and enjoying light and warmth with family and friends when days are getting shorter (in the Northern Hemisphere). Often there is an aspect of reaching out to those in need, to share and ‘give back’, to reflect on the passing year and to set goals for improving the coming year.
And with that, let’s all reflect on this unforgettable year, look at what we learned and make plans to make the coming year a positive one, even in the light of the current situation. Let’s find the moments, people and things we are thankful for, try to ‘give back’ by making someone’s day a bit brighter and make the resolution to look into the future with optimism.
We wish you all the best for the remainder of 2020 and may 2021 be YOUR year!
The Bilingual Primary Leadership Team
Find out more about the interreligious concept in our Bilingual Primary School