1. Favorite Holidays

    This collaborative project asks participants to examine their favorite types of holidays and the elements that make those holidays unique. After completing their report, participants will compare their responses with other classes from around the world.

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    Favorite Holidays

    Every year, citizens around the world celebrate a variety of holidays commemorating people, events, places, or things. Holidays unite people around ideas, beliefs, and customs.

    In this collaborative project, students examine their favorite types of holidays and the elements that make those holidays unique. After completing the report form, students compare their responses with other classes from around the world.

    Download printable Favorite Holidays project guide.

    Build Background Knowledge

    Use these strategies and resources to prepare for your discussions and data collection.

    Promote inquiry by displaying holiday images from Discovery Education or photos students bring from their personal holiday celebrations. Use the strategy Visual Walkabout (Canadian Subscribers) and ask students to label and categorize images.

    Use Paper Chat (Canadian Subscribers) with students to discuss how holidays are categorized around the following central themes:

    • Religious/Cultural: This kind of holiday is strongly connected to, or originates from, some religious or cultural tradition. Examples include Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid al-Fitr, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, Halloween, Kwanzaa, Mardi Gras, and Passover.
    • Calendar: This kind of holiday celebrates a seasonal or astronomical event. Examples include New Year, Winter Solstice, Groundhog Day, and Leap Day.
    • Historical/Political: This kind of holiday commemorates an important political or historical event. Examples include Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day, Independence Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, and Cinco de Mayo.
    • Personage/Professional/Social: This kind of holiday commemorates a great person, a group of people that share one profession or occupation, or people of a particular family role or age group. Examples include birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., President’s Day, Veteran's Day, Mother's Day, Children’s Day, Parents’ Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays.

    Explain to students that holidays have various elements that make them unique. Select a Discovery Education video about a familiar holiday and have students identify four or five categorical elements listed below. Download this printable guide for student worksheet.

    • Objects: (e.g., dreidels for Hanukkah, little dolls for Hinamatsuri, colored eggs for Easter)
    • Animals/Insects/Birds: (e.g., groundhog for Groundhog Day and rabbit for Easter)
    • Vegetation: (e.g., pumpkins for Halloween, pine trees for Christmas, and various trees for Earth Day)
    • Words or Phrases: (e.g., "I love you" for Valentine's Day or "I have a dream" for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
    • Music: (e.g., "Auld Lang Syne" for New Year's , "Yankee Doodle" for Independence Day)
    • Food: (e.g., turkey for Thanksgiving, fruit for Kwanzaa, matzo and maror for Passover seder)
    • People: (e.g., Santa Claus for Christmas, leprechauns for St. Patrick's Day)
    • Dress: (e.g., costumes for Halloween, masks for Mardi Gras)
    • Symbols: (e.g., four-leaf clover for St. Patrick’s Day, heart for Valentine’s Day)
    • Colors: (e.g., red for Remembrance Day, black, red, and green for Kwanzaa, green for St. Patrick’s Day)
    • Date: (e.g., July 4 for Independence Day, February 14 for Valentine’s Day)
    • Events: (e.g., parade for Mardi Gras, trick or treating for Halloween)
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