Thinking back to your own childhood, do you have memories of celebrating different festivals with your family? Chances are, these nostalgic memories still bring back vivid emotions. But celebrating festivals with our children is not just about having fun (although that is a huge part of it). It is also a great opportunity to talk about important family values, work on social-emotional and language development, pass down traditions and more.
Common festivals and holidays that are celebrated globally
While every country and culture has their unique holidays and festivals, there are some that are more widely celebrated than others, especially for those of us who live in Asia.Lunar New Year - January/February
Lunar New Year, also sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year, is a vibrant and festive celebration observed in many Asian countries. It marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and is characterized by family gatherings, colorful decorations, fireworks, delicious food, and (iconically) the exchange of red envelopes for good luck.Easter - April
Though Easter is originally a Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it has transformed into a global holiday that symbolizes hope, renewal, and new beginnings. Families will often exchange Easter eggs, gather for festive meals, participate in egg hunts, and get a surprise visit from the Easter Bunny.Mid-Autumn Festival - September/October
The Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated in China and other East Asian countries, honors the harvest season and the full moon. It involves the gathering of family and friends, the lighting of colorful lanterns, the sharing of mooncakes, and enjoying moonlit celebrations with cultural performances and folklore storytelling.Halloween - October
Halloween, observed on October 31st, is a festive holiday celebrated in many countries. It is characterized by costume parties, trick-or-treating, haunted attractions, and the carving of pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns. Halloween is associated with spooky stories and a playful embrace of all things eerie and supernatural.Christmas - December
Christmas is a widely celebrated holiday on December 25th, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is characterized by festive decorations, gift exchanges, and family gatherings. The season is filled with joy, goodwill, and traditions such as setting up Christmas trees, caroling, a visit from Santa Claus, and sharing meals with loved ones.
The importance of including our children in the festivities
- They are a great way of teaching children about your culture and traditions
Different countries or cultures will celebrate different festivals and holidays. For example, Lunar New Year is celebrated in many East Asian countries and always involves gathering with family, eating, and handing out or receiving red pockets. It also has more subtle traditions that may be specific to your family, such as getting a haircut, cleaning the house, buying new clothes and so on. These kinds of traditions would not be passed on in any other occasion.
- They are great for teaching values
Apart from the fun and games, festivals teach important values such as the importance of family, the importance of being grateful and much more. They are a great opportunity to show and model these values instead of just telling your children why they are important. For example, during Christmas, children often receive gifts. This is a great opportunity to teach the importance of gratitude and how we can show gratitude towards others.
- There is almost always a way to get children involved
Many festivals have traditions that revolve around children. For example, Halloween is all about dressing up, trick-or-treating, and pumpkin carving. These activities are all perfect for children to get involved, such as choosing their own costume or helping to carve the pumpkin. Family activities not only make the festival more fun, but also gives you a chance to bond and play together.
- They benefit children's development
Holidays and festivals are a great opportunity for family and friend gatherings, which is crucial for children to learn to build relationships with important people in their lives. In addition to their social and emotional development, children can also learn new vocabulary associated with different festivals. For example, during Mid-Autumn Festival, you might use words like mooncakes, lanterns, dragon dance, full moon and so on.
Prepare in advance to make sure everything goes smoothly
While it can be fun to attend and host gatherings, these events can be overwhelming for young children and throw them off their normal routine. Taking some simple steps beforehand can prevent awkward meltdowns and make the whole event fun for everyone.
Talk to your child about it in advance
If you have a party coming up this weekend with a lot of new people, talk to your child and let them know who will be coming. Get them excited to see their aunts, uncles, and friends again.
Give your child the option to go somewhere quiet
You can tell your child that if they feel tired, they can tell you and you can bring them somewhere to take a break. A simple 5 minute break to build some blocks or read a book can do wonders when it comes to helping your child recharge.
Try not to change too much about their daily routine
If the gathering is at night, try to keep everything else during the day similar to their normal routine. Go to football practice, have lunch when they would usually have lunch, spend some family time in the afternoon. When their bed time is approaching, ask them if they are tired and want to go to bed.
Finding a way to incorporate your children into festivals and celebrations that are important to you can go a long way in building a strong bond, passing down family traditions, and instilling important values in them. Just make sure you take some precautionary steps to make sure whatever event you have going on will run as smoothly as possible.