Classroom Activities

Hold On Holidays – There’s Still Three Kings Day

Angela PadronNow that January is here, most people are done celebrating the holidays. Well, not Hispanic families. One seasonal holiday remains - El Día de Los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day. 

 Three Kings Day is celebrated on January 6, twelve days after Christmas, the day of Jesus’s birth. It recognizes the day that the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus. The three wise men traveled a long distance and were drawn guided by the North Star, which shone bright in the night sky.

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Featured Readings

What is Hanukkah?

By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano

Hanukkah is a celebration even older than Christmas, commemorating an event that took place around 200 B.C.E. What event was this? Why does Hanukkah last eight days? And, why is it also called the Festival of Lights? Read the following facts to find out the answers to these questions and more.

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Featured Readings

6 Traditional Dishes to Celebrate the Holidays

By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano

1. Crusty Corn Bread

During Kwanzaa, many families enjoy dishes that come from important places in the African diaspora, such as Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. These dishes include hearty soups and stews, and nothing pairs better with them than cornbread. What’s more, it’s easy to make and very versatile. You can find endless recipes online, so choose the one that works best for your family. For a twist, prepare it with cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, or cracked black pepper. To get a golden crust, be sure to add extra melted butter to the batter before pouring it into the baking pan.

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Teacher's Corner (PreK-12)

8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Holiday Break

By- Kelli Drummer-Avendano

It’s time for a break! Finally! Unfortunately, the holidays can be just as hectic and stressful as work. It’s hard not to get caught up in the hustle of trying to create the perfect holiday experience for everyone or trying to squeeze in every activity you’ve ever wanted to do in the span of two weeks. Below are some suggestions for making the most of your holiday break.

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Featured Readings

The Story Behind #GivingTuesday

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By- Angela Padrón

With recent advancements in technology, it is possible to reach anyone, anywhere around the world, in seconds. This makes it easier to reach out to people who may be suffering or less fortunate. After all the Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten and people have taken advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, it’s time to take a step back and ask what we can do for others. In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, the National Day of Giving was created in order to address the needs of people in all parts of our country and the globe. The National Day of Giving, or #GivingTuesday, takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

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Featured Readings

Fun Facts about Christmas in Latin America

Christmas greeting card with text Feliz Navidad, poinsettia decoration

By Ángela Padrón

Most Hispanics will tell you that Christmas is one of their favorite times of the year. Weeks before the actual holiday, people spend time putting up lights and decorating inside and outside their homes, including nativity scenes of Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and the animals looking over baby Jesus. Many children reenact the birth of Jesus at schools and churches as well.

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Featured Readings

Thanksgiving Day

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By- Angela Padrón

In the early 1600s, the Pilgrims sailed to New England to begin colonies in the New World. However, the extremely cold winters, combined with malnutrition, illness, and the lack of knowledge of the land and how to cultivate it, caused almost half of the settlers to die. Those that remained befriended the Native Americans, including Squanto from the Pawtuxet tribe. Squanto taught the settlers how to plant corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish, and distinguish between poisonous plants and safe ones. The Pilgrims also befriended the Wampanoag Native Americans, with whom they shared a feast organized in 1621 by Governor William Bradford to celebrate the Pilgrims’ planting of a successful corn harvest. The celebration lasted for three days.

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Featured Readings

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

By Ángela Padrón

Every year on the last Monday in May, Americans celebrate Memorial Day. On this day, people honor men and women in the military who died while in service to their country. People visit cemeteries and memorials, hold parades with members of the military and various veterans’ organizations participating, and gather friends and family together to remember lost loved ones who served in the United States military. At 3:00 pm on this day, there is an official national moment of silence to remember the fallen.

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Featured Readings

New Year’s Rituals and Celebrations

By- Angela Padrón

Every December 31st, people ring in the New Year. Although there are similarities around the world in the way the holiday is celebrated, there are some rituals and customs that are unique to different cultures and countries.

In some places, people believe that certain foods eaten on New Year’s Eve can bring good tidings in the new year. For instance, in Latin American countries and in Spain, people eat twelve grapes at midnight to represent each month of the year. They believe this will bring them luck. In some countries, like Chile, people eat lentils instead of grapes. Some southerners in the U.S. cook black-eyed-peas to consume on New Year’s, which reminds them of coins that will bring them good fortune in the future. Many people toast with a glass of champagne and wish their families, friends, and anyone else in the room good luck and fortune in the new year.

Continuing with the theme of “luck,” some people believe that if you hold onto money at midnight, that will lead to economic success in the new year. In some countries, people who dream of a year full of travel have been known to walk around in circles at midnight, carrying a suitcase! Others toss the water out of their window, over their shoulder, or onto their front yard in order to get rid of the bad luck from the old year or to signify fewer tears, or less sadness, in the future. Some people even believe that wearing a certain color of underwear on New Year’s Eve can change the outcome of your year to come. For example, if you wear yellow underwear, you will be blessed with prosperity and success. Wearing red will shower you with love and romance, and white underwear brings peace and harmony. Green leads to good health, but black is bad luck!

In New York City, there is a huge celebration in Times Square each New Year’s Eve. No matter the weather, people gather to listen to different musicians and bands perform. Then one minute before midnight, they watch a giant 700-pound ball of lights slowly descend on a pole while they count down to the new year. When the ball finally drops, there is confetti and kissing! That’s right—people turn to a loved one—or maybe even a stranger!— for a kiss. This tradition happens around the world in the hopes of avoiding loneliness in the months to come. Other countries and places in the U.S. have their own version of the “ball drop” as well, with elaborate fireworks, dancers, and other forms of entertainment.

Getting rid of negative energy is another popular custom around the world on New Year’s Eve. In certain Latin American countries, people create large effigies of people who have been prominent in their lives or in the news during the year, including celebrities or governmental figures. These large muñecos are put on display and then burned in a bonfire, which helps shoo away evil spirits and bring good vibes in the new year. Many people also make lots of noise by shaking rattles, blowing horns, lighting firecrackers, or beating pots and pans to scare away evil spirits and negative energy. And for those who are convinced that a clean house means a house rid of evil spirits, they will spend New Year’s Eve cleaning and dusting!

No matter how you celebrate New Year’s, it’s clear there are many ways to wish prosperity, good fortune, and good health for yourself, friends, and family.

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