Saturday, January 8, 2011

365 Days With Kiddos - #23 - Learn About a Holiday You Don't Normally Observe

Quin's, 4 1/2 year old hands (sporting a bit of marker) holding the very tiny baby doll we found in rosca de reyes bread while celebrating Three Kings Day in Mexico.

The first week of January is already over. I was going to write this post on January 6th, but half of our family has been fighting the flu...

Karina, Quin, & I in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, January 2008

This week was the birthday of my very good friend, Karina. She likes to keep her birthday low-key after all of the holiday celebrating and it was a treat to have 45 minutes to chat on the phone with her. We got to reminiscing about the time she and I met up in Mexico in January of 2008. I was teaching a digital photography workshop in San Miguel de Allende, which is an amazing and inspiring part of Mexico for artists like ourselves. I brought my eldest daughter on the trip with me, she was about 19 months old. It was a memorable trip in many ways and I look forward to returning there with my husband and both of our daughters someday. If we do go, I would like to go in late October/early November during the los dios de los muertos festivities. On the trip Karina and I took we arrived at our amazing home rental on January 6th which is Three Kings Day. As I spoke with her this week, I thought about Three Kings Day, and some of the other holidays, like los dios de los muertos, which are holidays with interesting origins, traditions, and stories, but that are not holidays I grew up celebrating. I think it is a good way to teach my girls about other cultures by teaching them about these holidays.

Rosca de reyes bread

Three Kings Day, also known as Epiphany, celebrates the visit of the three wise men to Bethlehem to visit the baby Jesus. Epiphany is celebrated all over the world. In Mexico, people eat a wreath-shaped bread called "Rosca de Reyes". A small, plastic doll, meant to represent the baby Jesus is baked into the bread. The person who finds the figurine in their piece of bread has to provide the tamales for the next party, although it is said that everyone else tends to help anyway (very nice!). My daughter was given the doll from our bread, and we enjoy it as a souvenir of our time spent in Mexico. I have never made Rosca de Reyes but here is a recipe for you to try if you are game.

The newly-found baby doll in our rosca de reyes.

If you are interested in seeing more of my photographs of Mexico, just look to the right of this post, for the slideshow titled "San Miguel de Allende". I will also post some of the images as photography features in the coming weeks.

Thanks to the internet it is easy to find history, crafts, recipes, and other activities related to holidays all over the world. Some other holidays that you might like to explore with your children include:
~ La Befana; On the night of the 5th of January in Italy and Italian communities, kids wait for La Befana to fly in on her broomstick and fill their stockings and shoes with presents and candy while she looks for the baby Jesus.

~ Chinese New Year; This important traditional Chinese holiday begins with the first new moon of the new year and ends on the next full moon. In 2011, it begins on February 3rd. This time is filled with preparations, celebration, gift-giving, feasting, and spending time with friends and family. Children and unmarried people are given "lucky money" in red envelopes. A wonderful book we have read about Chinese New Year is Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin.

~ Mardi Gras; Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French. This day, March 8th, in 2011, was set aside for excessive feasting and celebration before a long period of fasting. It is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. A great craft for Mardi Gras is mask-making. Please check out this tutorial on masks that I made with a local after-school club.

~ Poila Baisakh; This is the celebration of the Bengali New Year. It is tradition to pay up your debts on this day and to create a book called halkhata for keeping track of your new accounts. At sunrise the celebration starts with a procession in which celebrants wear new clothes, and then dance, sing, and eat with family and friends.

~ Diwali; This holiday is celebrated in India as well as other parts of the world. It is known as the "festival of lights". It begins on the new moon between the months of Ashwin and Kartika, which will be October 26th, in 2011. During Diwali, homes are decorated, people share gifts, sweets, and wear new clothes. To welcome the light, diyas are lit everywhere.

If you celebrate a holiday specific to your culture please share it in the comments so that other readers may explore it, too...

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