Meaning of Holidays

 

About April Fool's Day:

April Fools' Day All Fools' Day Although not a holiday in its own right, is a notable day celebrated in many countries on April 1. The day is marked to prank, hoax and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, enemies and neighbors, or sending them on fools' errands, the aim of which is to embarrass the gullible.

It is believed it began back in 1582 in France. Charles IX reformed the calendar and was moved from March 25th to April 1st to January 1st. News traveled slowly back then and some people were just ignorant which started fool's errands. This is when people got invited to parties that didn't happen or were sent on wild goose chases to get stuff for the party. This evolved into prank playing and continues on today on April 1.

Fun Facts:

  • In 1985 Sports Illustrated tricked its readers when it made an article of a pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball 168 mph
  • In 1998 Burger King advertised a left handed whopper; scores of customers actually requested the Sandwich.
  • On April Fools' Day, 1997, Cartoon Network ran the 1944 Screwy Squirrel cartoon Happy-Go-Nutty repeatedly from 6 AM to 6PM, suggesting that the cartoon character had taken over the network.
  • Facebook On April 1, 2007, posted fake updates on the News-feed page reading: "Introducing LivePoke! Facebook will dispatch a real live person today to poke a friend of your choice. (offer good for only the first 100 pokers in each network)"

Activities:

  • Play pranks

About Arbor Day:

Arbor Day is a day when individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees. It originated in Nebraska City, Nebraska, in 1872 by a man named J. Sterling Morton. He realized that trees played an important role on our lives and we should give back to the earth what we have taken.

Prizes were offered for the first Arbor Day to those planting the largest sums of trees. An estimated one million trees were planted the first Arbor Day. Within 16 years of that first day, over 350,000,000 trees and vines were planted in the state of Nebraska. Soon people outside the state took notice and Arbor Day became recognized all over the United States.

Even though all states can't plant trees the same day because of climate differences, Arbor Day's official celebration is on the last Friday in April as declared by former President Richard Nixon in 1970.

Fun Facts:

  • In Japan, a similarly-themed Greenery Day is celebrated.
  • The majority of Arbor Day participates are school children who plant trees and shrubs along highways and other suitable places.
  • Morton was a Journalist who also found Nebraska's first newspaper
  • Arbor means "tree" in Latin.

Activities:

  • Plant or adopt a tree and keep a journal of its growth
  • Create a tree poem
  • Make a leaf collection
  • Write a story about a tree
  • Check out books from the library that have tree characters
  • Take a nature walk and measure some trees
  • Make a photo story of trees
  • Write about "My life as a tree"
  • Make leaf rubbings and them turn into art

About the Chinese New Year:

Chinese New Year,also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival.


It isn’t certain if The Chinese New Year started before or after the Qin Dynasty, but it has been determined to be about 2,638 years older than our calendar. Legend has it that Buddha summoned all the animals, but only 12 arrived before he died and he rewarded them by having a year named after them in the order they arrived.


Chinese New Year is mostly celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, and has had a strong influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Vietnamese, Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese and formerly the Japanese before 1873.

Chinese New Year is also celebrated in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, but it is not part of the traditional culture of these countries. In Canada, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many ethnic Chinese hold large celebrations and Canada Post issues New Year's themed stamps in domestic and international rates.

Fun Facts:

  • Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chuxi. Chu literally means "pass" and xi means "Eve".
  • The animals that arrived when Buddha summoned the animals arrived in this order:
    Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar
    The Chinese parents use to decide who their children would marry based on this calendar.

Activities:

  • Search the animal that represents your year
  • Create your own fireworks by using dark construction paper, glue and different colored glitter.
  • Make fortune cookies
  • Create dragon kites and lanterns
  • Practice writing Chinese letters
  • Make a chopstick picture frame
  • Create a hat with the animal of your birth.

About Christmas:

Christmas is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and has been celebrated on December 25, since 354 A.D It refers to the day celebrating his birth, as well as to the season which concludes with the Feast of the Epiphany. The date of December 25 is traditional, and is not considered to be Christ’s actual birth, which was more likely to be between March and May, but it is impossible to know for sure.

Christmas is derived from the Middle English Christemasse and Old English Cristes mæsse,a phrase first recorded in 1038. In early Greek versions of the New Testament, the letter Χ (chi), is the first letter of Christ and Xmas is often used as an abbreviation for Christmas.

The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day in 800. Around the 12th century, the remnants of the former Saturnalia traditions of the Romans were transferred to the Twelve Days of Christmas (25 December – 5 January). Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival, incorporating ivy, holly, and other evergreens, as well as gift-giving.

Modern traditions have come to include the display of Nativity scenes, holly and Christmas trees, the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Father Christmas or Santa Claus on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Popular Christmas themes include the promotion of goodwill and peace.

Fun Facts:

  • Although nominally a Christian holiday, it is also observed as a cultural holiday by many non-Christians.
  • The Armenian Apostolic Church observes Christmas on January 6.
  • Eastern Orthodox Churches that still use the Julian Calendar celebrate Christmas on the Julian version of 25 December, which is January 7
  • The word Christmas originated as a contraction of "Christ's mass".
  • Santa Claus, also called Saint Nick, started in Europe from a generous man called Saint Nicholas.
  • Christmas is celebrated by 96% of the population in the United States.
  • The modern Santa Claus has a leather belt and wears red and white.
  • Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states.
  • Thomas Edison’s assistant, Edward Johnson, came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees in 1882.
  • The government banned tinsel at one time as it contained lead. Now it is made of plastic.

Activities:

  • Learn the Poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas”
  • Go caroling
  • Make Christmas cards and send to friends and family
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Make ornaments
  • Watch holiday movies: The Grinch, Rudolph, A Christmas Story

About Cinco de Mayo:

May 5th or Cinco de Mayo, celebrates the victory against French forces in the city of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. It is also widely celebrated in the United States. For many years, Cinco de Mayo was promoted in the US as Mexican Independence Day, which is actually September 16. Although Mexican citizens feel very proud of the meaning of Cinco de Mayo it is not a national holiday in Mexico, but it is an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the mentioned battle took place.

Fun Facts

  • In Mexico this celebration is not as important as they make it seem in the US. It is of more importance to people of Mexican heritage living in the US that to Mexicans living in Mexico.
  • Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who made sure that the Mexicans got all the weapons and ammunition they needed to expel the French. American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican Army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico, City.
  • In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join and fight another war for America.

Activities:

  • Make maracas out of a paper plate with a handful of dried beans in it and staple the plate in half then shake. Making music is a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Make nachos and sangria juice made with your favorite fruit juices, soda water and fresh fruit.
  • Have a Mexican Fiesta! Wear red, white and green the colors of the Mexican flag.
  • Make a paper Mache piñata.

About Columbus Day:

Columbus Day is celebrated in the Western Hemisphere and honors the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, which happened on the October 12, 1492 on the Julian calendar, or October 21, 1492 on the Gregorian calendar.

Columbus Day commemorates Columbus' expedition to the West, in which he hoped to find a water route to India that would be faster than traveling by land. Instead, he found an entire continent that was mostly unknown to Europe, Africa, and Asia at the time. When he land in the Caribbean, he thought the Native Americans inhabiting the land were Indian folk from the West Indies; so he called them Indians.

While other Europeans sporadically visited the Americas earlier and there are varied theories of even earlier contact by East Asians, Phoenicians, and others, Columbus' travels triggered the great wave of European interest in the New World. Unlike earlier visitors, Columbus aggressively popularized his discoveries and arranged for return voyages.

Fun Facts:

  • A similar holiday is celebrated as Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in many countries in Latin America
  • Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) is celebrated in Costa Rica to commemorate this day
  • Discovery Day is celebrated in The Bahamas to commemorate this day
  • Día de la Hispanidad is celebrated in Spain to commemorate this day
  • Discoverer's Day is celebrated in Hawaii to commemorate this day
  • As of 2002 Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance) is celebrated in Venezuela to commemorate this day
  • New York City celebrated the 300th anniversary of the landing of Columbus on the first Columbus Day celebration in 1792.
  • As with all Federal holidays, when a holiday falls on a Sunday - it is usually observed on Monday.
  • When it falls on a Saturday - the holiday is usually observed on a Friday.
  • Columbus brought 3 ships to go on his mission; the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.

Activities:

  • Put on a play of Columbus discovering America
  • Write a poem about the voyage using facts of the trip
  • Construct paper ships and have a water race

About Easter:

Easter was first celebrated by the pagans around the spring equinox. The word Easter is derived from Eastre, the goddess of spring. Eastre represents morning, spring, and fertility. She was worshipped during this time of the year. Christians attached their religion to this pagan tradition. The celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection occurs on this day.

Fun Facts:

  • According to legend, the goddess known as Eastre would appear as a bunny rabbit, and thus the association of a bunny with Easter.
  • The Easter egg symbolizes birth and represents the rebirth of Jesus Christ.
  • 74% of children eat the ears off of their chocolate bunny first; 13% eat the feet first; and 10% eat the tail first.
  • More than 1 billion Easter eggs are hunted in the United States each year.
  • 700 million Marshmallow Peeps are sold each year.
  • Americans spend 2 billion dollars on Easter candy, and eat 7.1 billion pounds of Easter candy each year.
  • The largest Easter egg ever made was 5000 pounds and 25.7 feet long.

Activities:

  • Easter egg hunt
  • Make bunny masks with construction paper, paper plates and markers
  • Have an Easter party and wear spring colors
  • Dye Easter eggs

About Father's Day:

Father's Day is a secular celebration, non-religious and non-government, now celebrated around the world, but inaugurated in the early twentieth century in Spokane, Washington to complement Mother's Day. En essence it celebrates fatherhood and parenting by males, and it honors and commemorates fathers and forefathers. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving to fathers and family-oriented activities.

Father’s Day first started in West Virginia around 1909. Sonora Smart Dodd, was a driving force behind Father's Day as she wanted to show her appreciation and gratitude for her father, single parent and Civil war veteran, who cared for her and her five siblings in Spokane, Washington. She suggested Father’s Day to be on June 5th, the anniversary of his death, but the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday in June and celebrated for the first time June 19, 1910.

Fun Facts:

  • President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924.
  • President Lyndon Johnson officially designed the 3rd Sunday in June to be Father’s Day in 1966
  • The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972 when President Richard Nixon was in office
  • Roses are Father’s Day national flower. Red represents your father if living and white if your father has passed away

Activities:

  • Make Father’s Day ties out of material
  • Write about the best time you had with your father
  • Make a Father’s Day card
  • Make matching Father’s Day t-shirts
  • Make a Father’s Day munch mix with anything from m&ms to pretzels

About Grandparent's Day:

Grandparent's Day is observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day. It was started in 1970 by housewife Marian McQuade. She had the desire to set aside a special day to honor grandparents, give them an opportunity to show love to their grandchildren, and the educate children about the information and guidance that grandparents can offer.

Fun Facts:

  • There are 3 million cards given for Grandparent's Day each year.
  • There are approximately 56 million grandparents in the United States.
  • The forget-me-not is the official flower of Grandparent's Day.

Activities:

  • Write an essay about your grandparent's life
  • Write about a favorite moment with your grandparent
  • Construct a family tree
  • Invite grandparents to your grandparent's day school event

About Groundhog Day:

Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2nd. It is believed that on this day the groundhog comes out of winter hibernation and looks for his shadow. If he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter. If not, there will be an early spring. The earliest known American reference for Groundhog Day was in 1841 in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. Currently, the official groundhog for this day is Punxsutawney Phil. He lives at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where the official Groundhog's Day celebration takes place each year.

Fun Facts:

  • Groundhogs can whistle when they are alarmed.
  • Some call the groundhog the "first weather man".
  • Groundhogs are a member of the squirrel family.
  • The movie "Groundhog's Day" came out in 1993.

Activities:

  • Practice making hand shadows on the wall
  • Write poems about the groundhog's predictions
  • Create stick puppets and act out the shadow ceremony
  • Make picture frame with foods that groundhogs eat

About Halloween:

The modern holiday of Halloween may have its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of harvest. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the alive and the deceased would merge and the dead would become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness, or damaged crops. That day represented the last day of summer to the Celts. On this day when the spirits gathered, they would decide whose body it would infiltrate for the next year. Supposedly, that was a prerequisite for a peaceful entrance into heaven occupying another living body for a year penance. The Celts would dress up as witches, ghosts, and demons to scare these spirits away. They went around their dark houses making as much noise possible to scare the spirits as well.

Fun Facts:

  • We make Jack-O-Lanterns out of pumpkins because when the Irish came to America in 1840 to escape famine, there were only a vast amount of pumpkins, not turnips.
  • Halloween was originally celebrated into two days Beltane, which took place on May 1st to celebrate the birth of summer and Samhain, which took place on November 1st and marked to death of summer.
  • Halloween comes from "Hallow Even" or "Eve of all Hallows".

Activities:

  • Paint mini pumpkins
  • Make paper plate Jack-O-Lanterns with construction paper
  • Have a Halloween scavenger hunt
  • Make spiders out of pipe cleaner
  • Make rice krispie pumpkins by food coloring rice krispies and making them into rice krispie treats then ball them up like pumpkins and stick some black colored rice krispies for the eyes and mouth
  • Have a Halloween party
  • Dress up in a Halloween costume
  • Go to a haunted house
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Watch scary movies with friends and family

About Independence Day:

Independence Day is the birthday of the United States of America and is celebrated on the Fourth of July every year. Independence Day is the anniversary of the day on which the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It is a day to celebrate the separation of the United States from Britain to form a land of the free. John Adams, one of the founders of our new nation, said, "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore." Independence Day was first celebrated in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.

Fun Facts:

  • In 1781, Massachusetts was the first legislature to recognize the Fourth of July.
  • In 1941, Congress declared July 4 a paid federal holiday for federal employees.
  • It is said that our actual independence occurred on the 2nd of July and that we celebrate the date that the papers of the Declaration of Independence were signed making everything legally bound that the United States was an independent country.

Activities:

  • Have a red, white, and blue patriotic party.
  • Make cupcakes with various red, white, and blue frosting.
  • Make t-shirts and show your patriotism of your free country.
  • Act out the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Celebrate with family and friends at a cookout or party.
  • Shoot fireworks
  • Thank a soldier who is fighting for your country today.

About Kwanzaa:

Kwanzaa is a unique African American celebration with focus on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. Kwanzaa starts on December 26th and ends on January 1st. Kwanzaa is neither political nor religious and despite some misconceptions, is not a substitute for Christmas. Kwanzaa means "first fruits of the harvest" in the African language Kiswahili. Since its founding in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa has come to be observed by more than 18 million people worldwide, as reported by the New York Times. When establishing Kwanzaa in 1966, Dr. Karenga included an additional "a" to the end of the spelling to reflect the difference between the African American celebration (kwanzaa) and the Motherland spelling (kwanza).

This holiday is assumed to be based on an ancient African harvest. It is celebrated for seven days just like this harvest. The days are as listed: 1) gathering of the people 2) special reverence for the Creator and creation, especially thanksgiving and commitment 3) commemoration of the past, especially to the ancestors 4) re-commitment to our highest ethical and cultural values, especially Nguzo Saba and 5) celebration of the Good life, especially family, community and culture.

Fun Facts:

  1. Kwanzaa is represented into 7 symbols which are:
    1) Mazao-Crops
    2) Mkeka-Place mat
    3) Kinara-Candle holder
    4) Mishumaa Saba-Seven candles
    5) Muhindi- Ears of corn
    6) Zawadi-Gifts
    7) Kikombe Cha Umoja-Unity cup
  2. The ears of corn reflect the number of children in one’s home.

Activities:

  • Allow an African American elder to explain to you what Kwanzaa means to him or her.
  • Have fellowship with your family.
  • Do an activity that gives back to your community. Work at a homeless shelter, help serve at a soup kitchen, anything like those listed that would help your community.

About Labor Day:

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It's a day dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday contributes the working class contributions to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day became an official national holiday in 1894. This holiday is usually celebrated with summer activities like swimming, camping, picnics, etc. Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer in the Northern part of the U.S. Schools usually start back sometime during the week after Labor Day.

Elementary teachers use this holiday to introduce the concept of Community Helpers to small children. In an ideal society, everyone plays a role, or has a job that supports the community. Teachers use this national holiday to educate their students on career choices as well.

Fun Facts:

  • The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day a holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day in Europe is celebrated on May 1.

Activities:

  • Draw a picture of what you would like to do for a career
  • Have a day of relaxation.
  • Learn about a career that you are interested in.
  • Many companies have cookouts for their employees on this holiday.

About Mardi Gras:

Also known as "Fat Tuesday," this Pre-Lent festival is celebrated in Roman Catholic countries and communities all over the world. In a strict sense, Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated by the French as the last of the three days of Shrovetide, and is a time of preparation immediately before Ash Wednesday and the start of the fast of Lent. Mardi Gras is thus, the last opportunity for merrymaking and indulgence in food and drink. In practice, the festival is generally celebrated for one full week before Lent.

Mardi Gras is marked by spectacular parades featuring floats, pageants, elaborate costumes, masked balls, and people dancing in the streets. Some cities that celebrate this fun carnival have mystical societies that build colorful floats, have masked balls, and activities for the enjoyment of its members, guests, and the public. A well known tradition of Mardi Gras is the King Cake. Hidden in each oblong of braided coffee-cake dough is a bean or plastic baby; custom dictates that whoever finds it must give the next King cake party. And on Mardi Gras organization even uses a King cake tradition to choose the queen of its annual ball.

Fun Facts:

Some of the most famous cities are New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile, Alabama, and Sydney, Australia. The first American Mardi Gras was celebrated in New Orleans on March 3, 1699. The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. These colors represent justice, faith and power. The date Mardi Gras falls on depends on the date of Easter, therefore always occurring 46 days before Easter.

Activities:

  •  Design Mardi Gras masks
  • Create Mardi Gras flags with ribbon, buttons, sequins and other ornaments
  • Enjoy Louisiana type foods
  • Have a Mardi Gras party
  • Have a king and queen of the Mardi Gras
  • Bake a king cake
  • Go to a Mardi Gras Ball
  • Go to Mardi Gras Parades
  • Fat Tuesday has many carnivals that occur on that day, visit them.

About Memorial Day:

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. While we do not know when Memorial Day first started, we do know it began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War and there is evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War.

In May of 1966 President Lyndon Johnson officially claimed Waterloo, New York as the birthplace and though some people think it's a day to honor any and all dead, this holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country.

Fun Facts:

  • Red poppy seeds were worn after the civil war to represent the blood-shed of the solders.
  • One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.
  • It is traditionally viewed as the beginning of summer by many, for many schools are dismissed around Memorial Day.
  • Washington DC held the first Memorial Day parade in 2004 in over 60 years

Activities:

  • Create a flag out of craft sticks, paint, ribbon and stars
  • Decorate a plain old hat box in red, white and blue to store and serve your picnic desserts.
  • Make patriotic door hangers
  • Research family war heroes, the battles they fought, and the place they are buried.
  • Discuss the sacrifices and bravery of our soldiers from the past
  • Have a parade!

About Mother's Day:

Mother's Day is intended to be a day to celebrate motherhood. Many churches and families in the United States recognize the second Sunday in May to honor mothers.

Many years ago, England observed a day to honor mothers in mid-Lent that was called Mothering Sunday. In the United Kingdom, Mothers' Day is celebrated in March.

The first known suggestion of Mother's Day in the United States was in 1872, by Julia Ward Howe. She suggested that people observe the day on June 2nd as a day dedicated to peace. Others around the country campaigned for a Mother's Day including Mary Towles Sasseen, Frank E. Hering, and Anna Jarvis. In 1908, Anna Jarvis of West Virginia began a campaign for a nationwide observance of Mother's Day. She chose the second Sunday in May and started the custom of wearing a carnation.

Fun Facts:

  • In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a joint resolution of Congress recommending that Congress and the executive branch of government recognize the observance of Mother's Day.
  • If a person wears a colored carnation, their mother is living. A white carnation signifies that their mother has passed away.

Activities:

  • Create Mother's Day cards
  • Write poems about mothers
  • Create a photo story about mother
  • Explore family genealogy
  • Make a scrap book of your mother's favorite recipes
  • Have a mother – daughter outing
  • Design and construct a picture frame from craft sticks, paint, ribbons, and jewel. Put a favorite picture of your mother in it.
  • If you have a small child, allow them to put their hands in plaster and make a hand print.
  • Bake a cake or your mother's favorite sweet food.

About New Year's Eve:

The New Year's Eve is when we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next year. Cultures that measure yearly calendars all have New Year celebrations.

The ancient Roman calendar had only ten months and started the new year on March 1, which is still reflected in the names of some months which derive from Latin: September (seventh), October (eighth), November (ninth), and December (tenth). Around 713 BC the months of January and February were added to the year, traditionally by the second king, Numa Pompilius, along with the leap month Intercalaris. The year used in dates was the consular year, which began on the day when consuls first entered office — fixed by law at 15 March in 222 BC, but this event was moved to January 1, in 153 BC. In 45 BC, Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, dropping Intercalaris; however, January 1st continued to be the first day of the New Year.

It took quite a long time before the adoption of the January 1st as the start of the year became widespread.

Fun Facts:

  • Because of the division of the globe into time zones, the New Year moves progressively around the globe as the start of the day ushers in the New Year. The first time zone to usher in the New Year is just west of the International Date Line. At that time the time zone to the east of the Date Line is 23 hours behind, still in the previous day.
  • New Year is recorded as far back in Mesopotamia as 2000 BC!
  • Some believe that the change in Europe might have started the holiday April Fool's Day
  • January wasn't actually added to the calendar until 700 BC

Activities:

  • See how many words you can make using the letters from New Year’s Day
  • Learn how to say Happy New Year in different languages

About Rosh Hashanah:

Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew, "beginning of the year"), the Jewish New Year, is celebrated on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri (falling in September or October) by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and on the first day alone by Reform Jews. It begins the observance of the Ten Penitential Days, a period ending with Yom Kippur that is the most solemn of the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holy Days.

In the Bible, Rosh Hashanah is mentioned only as a day of remembrance and of the sounding of the ram's horn. These two characteristics of the day, interwoven with the theme of the proclamation of God's kingship, became the major components of the New Year's observance in later Judaism. They are emphasized in the liturgy by the repetition of verses of remembrance, verses that mention the ram's horn, and sovereignty verses. The first of these is important because it represents the sense of continuing creation and development of the world that Judaism emphasizes on this anniversary of creation. Because good and evil actions greatly influence the future, it is emphasized that God "remembers," and mention is made of the meritorious acts of the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to urge emulation of their holiness as the path to redemption.

Fun Facts:

  • The name Rosh Hashanah is not used in the Bible but refers to it as Yom Ha-Zikkaron or Yom Teruah.
  • No work is permitted on this day.
  • It is tradition that people dip apples and bread in honey to represent a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year.
  • The bread used for dipping is sometimes shaped into a crown to symbolize God as royalty.
  • A favorite practice is walking through flowing water and empty pockets like ridding yourself of sins.
  • The first month of the Jewish calendar is, Nissan.
  • "Torah" means Bible in Hebrew.

Activities:

  • Research the shofar or ram's horn to see what it sounds and looks like.

About Saint Patrick's Day:

Saint Patrick's Day, also known as St. Paddy's Day or Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick, whose real name was Maewyn Succat (385–461 AD), of Ireland one of the world's most popular saints. He is best known as the patron saint of Ireland. He died on March 17th.

As well as being a celebration of Irish culture, Saint Patrick's Day is a Christian festival celebrated in the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, and some other denominations. The day almost always falls in the season of Lent. Some bishops will grant an indult, or release, from the Friday no-meat observance when St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday. When 17 March falls on a Sunday, church calendars (though rarely secular ones) move Saint Patrick's Day to the following Monday—and when the 17th falls during Holy Week (very rarely, but it did happen 2008 and won’t be again until 2160), the observance will be moved to the next available date or, exceptionally, before holy week.

Many cultures regardless of ethnic background, including Americans, celebrate the holiday by wearing green clothing. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, though this practice is in fact alien to those who actually come from Ireland.

The St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland is part of a five-day festival. The first U. S. St. Patrick's Day parade was held in Boston in 1761 and the following year New York City celebrated St. Paddy’s day on March 18.

Fun Facts:

  • Irish colonists brought Saint Patrick's Day to what is now the United States of America.
  • In the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.
  • The predominantly French-speaking Canadian city of Montreal, in the province of Québec has the longest continually running Saint Patrick's Day parade in North America, since 1824.
  • According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish.
  • Chicago dyes its river green and has done so since 1961
  • Indianapolis dyes its main canal green.
  • Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green.
  • Ireland is the only place in the world where there are no snakes.

Activities:

  • Create lucky leprechauns out of paper and foam
  • Create leprechaun playing board and use shamrocks as tic-tac-toe pieces
  • Bake a shamrock cake
  • Make a pot of gold table decoration
  • Construct a shamrock pin from material and shamrock pattern
  • Design a bingo game with St. Patrick’s day words
  • Make St. Patrick’s Day cards
  • Have a party and prepare all green foods

About Spring:

The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5º tilt of the earth's axis. Because the earth is rotating, it points in a fixed direction continuously. The earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than the northern hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime, during the summer, in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky and low in the sky during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. This is called the summer solstice, and is typically June 21st, the first day of summer.

The lowest elevation occurs around December 2nd, the first day of winter. When the night time hours are maximum this is called the winter solstice. Almost half-way between the winter and summer solstice is the time of the vernal or spring equinox. It is one of two times during the year when the daytime and night time are almost exactly 12 hours long and very close to being equal to each other. During summer, the axis of the Earth is tilted toward the Sun, and the length of daylight days rapidly increases as latitude increases. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly, causing new plant growth to "spring forth". Spring is a time that allows us to get outside after a long, cold winter. Beautiful flowers bloom, and the earth shows off its new life.

Activities:

  • Design a wind sock
  • Create rock lady bugs with paint
  • Plant a baby food garden
  • Make bird biscuits to hang in the trees
  • Grow tin can herb garden
  • Create bloom bingo with spring words
  • Design spring time place mats
  • Make pin wheels with straws and construction paper
  • Go on a picnic
  • Make a bouquet of fresh flowers

About Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a traditional North American holiday and is also a form of harvest festival. While many think Thanksgiving originated in the United States, in fact it was first celebrated in what would become Canada in the late 1500s. It wasn't celebrated until the early 1600s, roughly estimated 1621 when the pilgrims and Native Americans gathered, in what would become the United States.

Since it's very first gathering Thanksgiving has remained unchanged. It is a holiday that's name says exactly what it is, a time for giving thanks.

People generally give thanks with feasting and prayer for the blessings they have received during the year. The first Thanksgivings were for thanking God for plentiful harvests. For this reason, the holiday is associated with fall - a time of harvesting the crops.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is usually a day celebrated with big dinners and family reunions. Thanksgiving is also a time for religious reflection, church services and prayer. The last Thursday in November was proclaimed the National Thanksgiving holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. He proclaimed it "a day of thanksgiving and praise to the beneficent Father." Thanksgiving was celebrated on that date for 75 years until President Roosevelt set the day one week earlier in 1939 so as to lengthen the shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas to help businesses. Congress finally ruled in 1941 that the fourth Thursday in November would be the legal National Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Fun Facts:

  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States.
  • The first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated less than a year after the Plymouth colonists settled in the New World.
  • The corn harvest brought celebration and Governor William Bradford decreed that a three day feast be held.

Activities:

  • Learn and play native American games
  • Pen a thanksgiving poem
  • Create a thanksgiving place mat
  • From a tree branch, put on leaves of thanksgiving; use as a centerpiece.
  • Make a booklet of recipes for using leftover turkey
  • Trace your family tree
  • Construct turkeys out of pine cones and construction paper

About Valentine's Day:

Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is an American and European holiday celebrated each year on February 14. Traditionally it is a day on which lovers express their love for each other by exchanging Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, offering candies or other gifts.

Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline and a figure of the winged Cupid. Before the 19th century, handwritten notes were common but have since been replaced by mass-produced cards.

It is estimated by the U.S. Greeting Card Association that approximately one billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas.

Legend has it that Emperor Claudius II ordered that young men may not marry, as he felt marriage made for poor soldiers. St. Valentine, a priest at that time, went against the Emperor and secretly married those who wished to be. St. Valentine was eventually imprisoned for his actions against the emperor, and while in prison, it is said that Valentine fell in love with the jailor's daughter and signed "From your Valentine" This became the first "Valentine" ever.

Fun Facts:

  • The holiday is named for two Early Christian martyrs named Valentine.
  • Valentine's Day became associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages during Geoffrey Chaucer era, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
  • Some believe that February 14 marks St. Valentine's death.
  • Cupid is the symbol for Valentine's Day because he shoots the "arrow of love".
  • One billion Valentine cards are sent every year which is only second to Christmas.

Activities:

  • Create valentine cards and add a rhyme
  • Create an acrostic poem using the word valentine
  • Measure objects with candy hearts
  • Design picture frames using cutout hearts for a favorite person or pet
  • Create animals using cutout hearts
  • Bake heart cookies
  • Have a heart hunt
  • Learn I LOVE YOU in sign language
  • Make a heart wreath
  • Design a box or sack for storing valentines
  • Create a friendship poem
  • Play a card game of hearts

About Veteran's Day:

Veterans Day is an American holiday commemorating the courage and patriotism of all men and women who have served in the United States military and is recognized as both a federal holiday and state holiday in all 50 states. It is celebrated on Monday the week of November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

Veterans Day, first proclaimed as Armistice Day by President Wilson on November 11, 1919, which marked the one year anniversary signing of the Armistice that ended World War 1 on November 11, 1918. The United States Congress passed a concurrent resolution seven years later on June 4, 1926, requesting the President issue another proclamation to observe November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, a tradition still in place. In 1938 Veterans Day became a federal holiday and after World War II and the Korean War, in 1964 the 83rd US Congress changed the word Armistice to Veterans after being urged to do so by the Veterans' Association to honor all the United States Veterans. In 1968, after the Uniforms Holiday Bill continued to celebrate the date but moved Veterans Day to the 25th of October. In 1975 President Gerald R. Ford moved Veteran’s Day back to its original date of November 11.

Fun Facts:

  • Veteran's Day only stayed in October for 10 years
  • Great Britain and France celebrate Veterans Day as Armistice Day.
  • Canada celebrates Veterans Day as Remembrance Day.
  • President Ford issued Veteran's Day back to November 11, in 1975, but it didn't happen until 1978.
  • In 2001, Veteran's awareness week was held the 11th – 17th.

Activities:

  • Send letters to soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan
  • Display the flag somewhere
  • Bake a flag cake
  • Go to a parade
  • Create a scrapbook of a veteran in your family