Category Archives: Faith

5 Things Kids Should Know About Passover

Passover is an eight-day Jewish holiday that celebrates the story of how the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. Here are five things that kids should know about Passover.

  1. Passover is the oldest continuously celebrated Jewish festival.
  2. Seder, the traditional meal eaten to celebrate Passover, means “order.” Families eat very specific foods to remind them of the story of Passover. The bitter herbs are to remind them of the bitterness of slavery. The wine is a reminder of the rejoicing they felt when they were freed. The unleavened bread is a reminder that they had to leave Egypt so quickly that their bread didn’t have a chance to rise.
  3. Every seder table is set with a fifth cup of wine which is reserved for the Prophet Elijah. It is believed that Elijah will answer Jewish legal questions that the rabbis could not resolve. On the night of the Passover seder, the hope is that Elijah will return and answer the question of whether or not four or five cups of wine or grape juice should be drunk during the dinner.
  4. The last thing eaten at the seder is the afikomen, or dessert. The afikomen is hidden and the children at the meal must find and negotiate for its return. Until the afikomen is found the meal cannot be completed.
  5. During the first two days and the last two days of Passover participants do not go to school or work; instead, they say special prayers and eat meals together.

Happy Passover, and to all of you who celebrate it, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

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How Did Easter Get Its Name?

It is believed that Easter actually gets its name from an Old English word, Ēastre, that was given to the month of April in honor of a pagan goddess,  Ēastermōnaþ.

This goddess is believed to have been the deity associated with spring and fertility and some Easter symbols that we would recognize today – eggs and rabbits, or hares – were used during this celebration.

In addition, feasts were held in her honor, but by the 8th century, these had given way to the Christian festival of Easter, which celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Most of the information on this theory of how Easter got its name comes from Bede, a monk in what is today England.

Jacob Grimm, one of the two brothers famous for their collection of old stories and myths, supported Bede’s claims on the origin of the name Easter although scholars dispute this theory.

However – and wherever – Easter got its name, it is celebrated by more than one in three people in the world.

 

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Why Is There an Easter Bunny?

My five year old nephew asked the other day, “Why is there an Easter bunny that brings eggs if only birds can lay eggs?”

It’s a great question – and one countless other children have asked.

Here are five reasons why the Easter Bunny – and not the Easter Birdie – brings those eggs around on Easter Sunday morning.

  1. Rabbits are a traditional symbol of spring because they are known for their fertility.
  2. Rabbits – and their ability to have so many offspring – encourage hope in a better, brighter future that is abundantly fruitful.
  3. An egg-laying rabbit speaks to people’s desire for something mystical and magical in their spring celebrations. It’s a little like magic when flowers break through the frozen ground and free people from the long, hard winter.
  4. Rabbits symbolize innocence and wonder, childlike qualities that correspond with the rebirth and rejuvenation people feel when spring returns.
  5. Like the lamb, rabbits are associated with religious sacrifice; Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus.

I’m not sure if any of these reasons will satisfy my inquisitive nephew, but it may satisfy the curiosity of some adults who have often pondered the same question.

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Is the Easter Bunny French?

The origins of the Easter Bunny – that long-eared rabbit who generously leaves candy in the baskets of good boys and girls and hides brilliantly colored eggs for them to find – can be traced to Alsace, a region that is now located in France but which was for many years part of Germany.

The first written mention of the Easter Bunny came in a book by Germany’s Georg Franck von Frankenau called De Ovis Paschalibus (About Easter Eggs).

The Easter Bunny came to America in the 1700s when German immigrants came to Pennsylvania and brought with them the legend of the Osterhase, an egg-laying hare. Children made nests for the rabbit to lay colored eggs.

Eventually, the Osterhase, or Easter Bunny, began to deliver chocolate, jelly beans, and other candy and gifts.

To thank the Easter Bunny, children left out carrots to help him keep his energy up!

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Holi: The Indian Festival of Color

Wouldn’t you love to celebrate the coming of spring with a wild and exuberant festival where you didn’t have to behave and got to throw colored powder and perfume on people? Sounds like fun!

That’s the festival of Holi, an Indian holiday that is believed to commemorate the faithfulness of a young man, Prahlada, who continued to worship the god, Vishnu, even after he was ordered to stop by his father. His father commanded him and his aunt, Holika, into a fire that burnt up the aunt but spared Prahlada. The name Holi comes from the unlucky aunt.

Followers of Hinduism offer prayers on Holi and light bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, as well.

The festival can last for a few days and it is generally seen as a time where people do not have to adhere to the strict social code in India but can relax and celebrate.

Although celebrations may vary by region, Holi is an important holiday in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

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Read About Purim With Kids

The story of Purim is very meaningful for Jewish people for religious and cultural reasons, and it can have special significance for anyone whose faith uses the Old Testament. But it also is a great example of a story where a young woman is the hero who saves her people.

Not only is it important for girls and boys to hear stories where a woman is the hero, but it’s also important to provide children with examples of real people exhibiting courage and conviction. These are two character traits that most adults would like to see children develop and maintain throughout their lives, so why not start by encouraging them to find role models, such as Queen Esther? Here are some book recommendations to help you share the story of Purim with the children in your life.

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale by Eric A. Kimmel and Jill Weber

Cakes and Miracles : A Purim Tale by Barbara Diamond Goldin and Jaime Zollars

The Purim Costume by Peninnah Schram

The Queen Who Saved Her People by Tilda Balsley and Ilene Richard

When It’s Purim (Very First Board Books) by Edie Stoltz Zolkower and Barb Bjornson

To learn more about Purim with KidCulture, read The Festival of Purim and discover how to make the famous Purim cookie hamantaschen when you read our post on Purim Cookie: Haman’s Ears.

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What is Ash Wednesday?

Photo courtesy TimesUnion.com

Ash Wednesday is celebrated by many Christian religions as the beginning of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice in the 40 days leading up to Easter.

On Ash Wednesday, Christians attend church and receive a cross marked on their forehead in ashes as a sign of repentance.

Once you receive the ashes, you are not supposed to wipe them off. Instead, it is intended that you will leave them until they gradually wear off.

The ashes are typically made by burning the palm fronds that are given out on Palm Sunday during the previous Lent.

 

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Merry Christmas Quotes

Merry Christmas! If you’re celebrating, have a wonderful holiday full of the true spirit of the season.

The only blind person at Christmastime is he who has not Christmas in his heart. ~Helen Keller

Christmas is a time when you get homesick even when you’re home. ~Carol Nelson

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~Washington Irving

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself. ~Francis C. Farley

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Hanukkah Quotes

Here are some quotes to get – and keep – you in the holiday mood as people around the world celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah.

May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind.  ~Author Unknown

The darkness of the whole world cannot swallow the glowing of a candle.  ~Robert Altinger

Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening’s forehead o’er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.
~Emma Lazarus, “The Feast of Lights”

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart
~Hannah Senesh

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Holiday Cookie Countdown: Pastel de Navidad

Pastel de Navidad are a delicious Spanish dessert that you and your family are sure to love.

If you want to celebrate Christmas in Spain, you’re going to have to take a nap first. Christmas dinner is traditionally eaten at midnight on Christmas Eve after the family has attended mass together.

The festivities, which include singing, do not end until very early in the morning. According to a Spanish song, “This is the good night, it is not meant for sleep.”

The next day, Christmas Day, the family again returns to church. Presents are not exchanged until the Feast of the Three Kings, when the three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.

But you don’t have to wait until January to enjoy these delicious treats. Try this recipe from Cooking Clarified and see if these don’t become one of your new favorites. Feliz Navidad!

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