Tag Archives: holiday

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!”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Faith, Holiday

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Holiday, Learn

Cuddle Up With a Book on Valentine’s Day

The one enduring love of my life is books.

I never get mad at books for not making the bed. I’m never upset when books forget my birthday. And the only time I have to compete for books is when I want to read a new title at my local public library.

For all of these reasons – and regardless of how many sweethearts you have in your life – books are a great way to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. Here are some book recommendations for you to share with kids because one of the best gifts you can give children at any time of the year is a lifetime love of reading.

The Kiss That Missed – David Melling

If You’ll Be My Valentine – Cynthia Rylant

Zombie in Love – Kelly DiPucchio

Guess How Much I Love You? – Sam McBratney

10 Valentine Friends – Janet Schulman

Love, Splat – Rob Scotton

A Giant Crush – Jennifer Choldenko

Happy reading!

Leave a comment

Filed under Learn, Read

10 Things Kids Should Know About Hanukkah

Hanukkah begins tonight. Here are ten things kids should know about this special holiday.

1. Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew.

2. Hanukkah is one of the lesser holidays in Judaism, but because of its proximity to Christmas, many Jewish parents try to make it special so their children do not feel left out.

3. The story of Hanukkah originates with an act of Jewish resistance against the Greeks who took over the Jewish Temple in 168 B.C.E.

4. The Greeks prevented Jewish people from practicing their religion. They made practicing Judaism punishable by death and tried to force people to worship the Greek god Zeus and to eat pork, two things that are forbidden in the Jewish faith.

5. When a Greek officer tried to force Mattathias, a Jewish High Priest, to worship Zeus and to eat pork, Mattathias struck back. He and his sons killed the Greek officer and then hid in the hills around Jerusalem.

6. Other Jewish people joined with Mattathias and the Jewish people ultimately won back their lands and the Jewish Temple.

7. The Jewish rebels were known as Maccabees or Hasmoneans.

8. To purify the Jewish Temple, the Jewish people decided to burn holy oil for eight days. But when they arrived at the temple, they realized that they only had enough oil for one day. 

9. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the small quantity of oil lasted for all eight days.

10. Today, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah by eating foods fried in oil, lighting the menorah, giving gifts each night, and spinning dreidels.

Learn more about Hanukkah – and the Jewish faith – by trying some new foods, reading books about Hanukkah, and playing dreidel.

Make some rugelach or mandelbrot.

Read children’s books about Hanukkah.

And here’s how to play dreidel.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Holiday

Holiday Cookie Countdown: Burrebrede

One of my new favorite Christmas cookies is Scottish Burrebrede. It’s got a delicious flavor and flaky texture that is unlike many of the cookies you’re likely to encounter this holiday season – all the more reason to bake up a batch!

The Scottish today celebrate Christmas in much the same way as others do around the world. They decorate their homes with Christmas trees and many people like to use Scottish tartan ribbons as a garland on their tree.

On Christmas Day at 3 o’clock, many Scots gather to watch Queen Elizabeth II make her annual Christmas address.

Since the days are so short in Scotland at this time of year – the sun does not rise until nearly 8:30 a.m. and sets at 4:30 p.m. – Christmas  is a great way to break the gloom of winter.

You can break the gloom of winter wherever you are by baking up a batch of burrebrede from Cooking Clarified. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Europe, Holiday

Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls

Pamplona's running of the bullsToday marks the first day of the festival of San Fermin in Pamplona, a Catholic religious holiday in Spain that is most closely associated with the running of the bulls.

Saint Fermin is believed to have been the son of a Roman senator who converted to Christianity and later became a priest. He was martyred in France in AD 303.

The San Fermin festival begins on July 6 with a rocket launch from a balcony of Pamplona’s city hall. The next day there is a procession in which a statue of Saint Fermin is paraded through the streets joined by dancers, musicians, and the “gigantes” and “cabezudos” (giants and big-heads).

San FerminThe running of the bulls takes place on July 7 and continues each day of the festival, which lasts until July 14. Runners are pursued by six bulls and six steers down a roughly half-mile route that ends at the bullring in Pamplona. Before the run begins, participants pray to Saint Fermin and chant three times asking for his protection.

The run begins when a firecracker is set off to alert the runners that the bulls have been released. Since hundreds of people participate, the firecracker signal is necessary so that people will be prepared to start running. Although approximately 15 people have been killed running from the bulls, about 250 people are injured every year, usually from falls.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Europe, Faith, Holiday

The History of Easter Eggs

Easter EggThe tradition of dyeing eggs in the spring actually predates Christianity, although it is very heavily associated with the Christian holiday of Easter.

Ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed that the world began with a giant egg, so it was natural to adapt the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth in the spring.

More than 2,500 years ago, Zoroastrians decorated eggs for their New Year celebration, called Nowrooz.

During the Passover Seder, Jewish tradition holds that hard-boiled eggs, called Beitzah, are dipped in salt water and eaten.

Some of the most famous egg-decorators are Christian, however.

At Greek Easter, believers dye eggs red to represent the blood of Jesus Christ and his suffering on the cross. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed tomb. Cracking it represents his resurrection.

In fact, a common game at Greek Easter is to crack eggs against each other to replicate the cracking of the tomb. The person whose egg lasts the longest (by not cracking) is the winner and is assured good luck over the coming year. Recipes and information about Greek Easter celebrations are available here.

Ukrainian eggs are famous around the world. Pyysanka are brilliantly and painstakingly decorated. The eggs are usually raw although baked eggs were sometimes used. The colors came from dried plants, roots, bark, berries, and some insects. The eggs were decorated at night after the children were asleep. A group of women would work together on their designs. Beeswax was used to create designs.

Other well-known eggs include Drapanka from Poland, which are dyed shades of brown using onion skins and etched to create beautiful designs.

However you choose to decorate your eggs, they are a nearly universal symbol of new life, fresh starts, and optimism.

Happy Spring!

5 Comments

Filed under Europe, Holiday, Middle East

Martyrs Day in Madagascar

Antananarivo, MadagascarMarch 29 marks the anniversary of Martyrs Day in Madagascar, a day when 11,000 people lost their lives while opposing French colonial rule in 1947.

On this day, their sacrifice is remembered and honored.

Families celebrate by spending time together and enjoying activities together such as going to the movies or relaxing in a park.

Elected officials make speeches at special events and lay commemorative wreaths to honor those who died.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Cookie By Any Other Name

palmiers

Photo: Real Simple

Known as palmiers in France, palmeritas in Spanish, ventaglio in Italian, and elephant ears in English, these little cookies have a devoted, global following.

It is believed that they are French in origin, where their name translates to “palm leaves.”

They are widely available in bakeries and from companies such as Goya, but they are also easy to make – so long as you don’t try to make your own puff pastry!

Here’s a recipe from Ina Garten that was posted on www.foodnetwork.com. Try it and let me know what you think.

4 Comments

Filed under Eat, Europe

Food, Family, and Chinese New Year

There are few better – or cheaper – ways to introduce your child to other cultures than through food.

With so many great ethnic restaurants, it’s easy for parents to get children accustomed to foods from different countries from an early age.

However, parents may be unsure of what to order that’s kid-friendly.

In honor of Chinese New Year, which runs February 3-15, over the next few days KidCulture will provide some suggestions to help parents choose food in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants.

In each of these countries, people celebrate Chinese New Year by sharing good food with their families and friends – and that’s a custom worth adopting.

So stay tuned for some fresh, fun, food ideas to help you introduce your child to other cultures.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat, Holiday