Holiday Celebrations from Around the World

Kids love any reason to have a party, so why not celebrate some of the world’s major holidays this year? You’ll teach your child about different cultures and maybe pick up a few new family traditions.

January 26: Chinese New Year

During the Chinese New Year, grown-ups give children little red envelopes filled with chocolate coins, which symbolize wealth and good fortune. Why not slip homemade coupons (“Good for one hug”) into red envelopes for your kids?

    February 24: Mardi Gras

    Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. Get in the spirit by baking a king cake, a traditional treat (find a recipe at Don’t forget to hide a trinket inside, usually a tiny plastic baby. Crown whoever gets the prize king or queen for the day.

    • King Cake Recipe from

    March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

    Bring a little luck o’ the Irish into your home on St. Patrick’s Day. Start by coloring your kid’s cereal milk green. Blame it on those mischievous leprechauns! Then top things off by reading the classic St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, by Eve Bunting.

    • St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, $6, available at

    April 22: Earth Day

    Earth Day gives us a chance to reflect on what’s happening to our planet and do a little community service for Mother Nature. As a family, pledge to pick up every empty bottle or can you see in your neighborhood.

    • More tips at

    May 5: Cinco de Mayo

    Throw a Cinco de Mayo party for your kids and their amigos! Salute Mexican pride and heritage with mucho dancing, music, and fun. Don a sombrero, shake your maracas, serve guacamole (get a recipe at, and watch Dora’s Super Silly Fiesta!

    • Guacamole recipe from
    • Dora’s Super Silly Fiesta! DVD, $13, available at

    June 20: Midsummer Day

    Scandinavians celebrate the summer solstice on Midsummer Day, the longest day of the year — it stays light way past bedtime! Get outside and enjoy the sunshine — play in the yard, fly a kite, or take a family hike.

    • Visit to find out more

    July 1: Canada Day

    This Canada Day, surprise your family with pancakes and maple syrup for dinner. Explain the maple leaf — Canada’s most prominent symbol. At bedtime, teach them about our northern neighbors by reading M Is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet, by Michael Ilmer.

    • M Is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet, $20, available at

    August 21: Ramadan

    Ramadan, the holiest of Muslim holidays, lasts 30 days and teaches sacrifice and generosity through fasting and prayer. Ask your child to write down one nice thing he did for each day of Ramadan.

    • Kids can learn about the Islamic faith at

    September 2: Onam

    The Southern Indian state of Kerala celebrates Onam, a harvest festival that welcomes the spirit of the legendary ruler King Mahabali. A boat race is the highlight of the festivities, so rent some canoes and have your own competition.

    • Learn more at

    October 4: Oktoberfest

    On the last day of Oktoberfest, get your kids in the autumnal mood with cider, pretzels, and a cute German craft like the horse-chestnut critters at Celebrations are held all over the U.S., so Google around to see whether there’s one near you.

      November 15: Shichi-Go-San

      Shichi-Go-San, a Japanese traditional rite of passage for children who are 7, 5, and 3 years old (believed to be lucky numbers), celebrates their good health and future.

      • Log on to to see photos of Japanese children dressed in their finest holiday kimonos

      December 26: Kwanzaa

      Teach your kids the principles of Kwanzaa, an African-American holiday that celebrates family and culture, with a reading of Seven Spools of Thread, by Angela Shelf Medearis. Then dance to the music of Kwanzaa for Young People (and Everyone Else!).

      • Seven Spools of Thread, $16, available at
      • Kwanzaa for Young People (and Everyone Else!), $13, available at

      Originally published in the January 2009 issue of Parents magazine.