So much to celebrate this winter!
One of the things I love the most about working with kids is their curiosity. Kids are naturally open-minded and love to ask questions.
It reminds me that, even as an adult, it’s important to continue to explore and learn.
As an interfaith family living an expat life, we celebrate traditions from our two religions and cultures and we love to encourage an environment of understanding, compassion, and acceptance of other cultures at home.
That’s why I created this page to include ways to learn about the winter holidays celebrated around the world!
One thing you’ll notice as you read through the holidays below is that there is a universal theme of giving.
The holidays are a time when we give presents to the people we love. In yoga, we talk about KARMA. Karma is in the actions we take. It’s the spiritual belief that what you put out into the world, the Universe will bring back to you.
JOURNALING PROMPT: WRITE ABOUT A TIME YOU DID SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (above the Equator). Because our calendar doesn’t line up exactly with the Earth’s spin over the year, the exact date of the Solstice can change by a day or so. It typically occurs one day between December 20 to 23rd.
SOLSTICE SCAVENGER HUNT
* Make up a scavenger hunt for a friend or someone in your family!
SOLSTICE-INSPIRED YOGA POSES
Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) is the Jewish “Festival of Lights”.
It celebrates the Jewish people’s victory over King Antiochus, who had forbidden Jews from practicing their religion. During the battle, the Jewish temple was destroyed. There wasn’t enough oil left to light the lamp so the Jews could pray. But, by a miracle, the oil lasted 8 days while the Jewish people made more. Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 nights with prayer, the lighting of a special candelabra called a menorah, and eating potato pancakes (called latkes) and jelly donuts (called sufganiyot), and playing with a spinning top called a dreidel.
HANUKKAH YOGA POSES
FREEZE DANCE: A HANUKKAH YOGA GAME
During Hanukkah, Jews celebrate with family games and music. Here is a way to combine the two!
1 person is the DJ. Put on some music and everyone dances!
Pause the music and everyone has to freeze in one of the Hanukkah poses! (Or make up your own poses!)
Keep repeating until the song is over.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is celebrated by Christians all over the world. After Jesus was born, 3 wise men came from very far away to bring him presents.
Many people – Christians and secular people alike – celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to their family and friends. Some people also believe that Santa Claus, a magical man who lives in the North Pole, builds toys and loads them up in his sleigh on Christmas eve, delivering gifts to children while they sleep.
Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture and heritage. It is celebrated over 7 days, from December 26th to January 1st. Each day focuses on a different belief or value in the African-American experience.
- Umoja (unity), pronounced oo-mo-ja
- Kujichagulia (self-determination), pronounced koo-gee-cha-goo-lee-ah
- Ujima (collective work and responsibility), pronounced oo-gee-ma
- Ujamaa (cooperative economics), pronounced oo-jah-ma
- Nia (purpose), pronounced nee-ah
- Kuumba (creativity), pronounced koo-um-ba
- Imani (faith), pronounced ee-mah-nee
The words are in Swahili, a language spoken across many African countries. Learn more about Kwanzaa here.
DRUM-A-DRUM-DRUM For KWANZAA
Because Kwanzaa is about bringing people together, unity, one way people celebrate Kwanzaa is by coming together for a drumming circle! You can do a drumming circle at home too!
If you don’t have drums, you can use pots and pans, table tops, or your body!
Take turns being the leader and drumming together to create beautiful, unified, beats!
If you’re by yourself, try using your hands to tap on different parts of your body. How is the sound different when you tap on different parts of your body?
Kwanzaa Yoga Poses
Diwali is a “Festival of Lights” celebrated in India and Southeast Asia by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. The word “diwali” is Sanskrit for “lamps in a row” and, during Diwali, people decorate their houses with little lamps called diyas.
Diwali is a celebration of the new year and is typically celebrated in the late Fall (October or November).
DIWALI JOURNALING PROMPT
One of the biggest themes of the holiday is how goodness always triumphs over evil. It’s a great time to think about the good deeds you have done for others and that others have done for you. How did that make you feel?
The story of Diwali: A Yoga story
Ruchi Chopra is a family yoga teacher from India who lived in California. Her children, Ruch and Kash, created this sweet yoga video to share the story of Diwali.
Festivus is a holiday that was made famous by a TV show called Seinfeld in 1997. It has been described as a holiday that rejects commercialism and religion and is celebrated on December 23rd. People gather around a Festivus pole and eat a meal together. Then, they practice feats of strength and share the traditional airing of grievances.
Airing of Grievances
JOURNALING PROMPT: What are you mad, angry, frustrated about?
Are you ready to let go of it?
After writing your grievance down on a piece of paper (younger kids can draw a picture), throw it away. Literally or figuratively. Rip up the paper, burn it, or throw it in the trash.
Yell: GOOD RIDDANCE!
For older kids and adults, you might consider a Ho’oponopono ceremony.
Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian prayer for releasing anger and welcoming in forgiveness.
Even bad experiences can teach us valuable lessons. Instead of “good riddance”, spend some time thinking about what you learned from this experience.
When we recognize how we’ve grown because of an experience, it can make it easier to release the hurt that surrounds the memory.
FEATS OF STRENGTH
Journaling prompt: What makes you feel like a strong person?
Test how strong you are, physically, with these simple exercises:
- How long can you balance on 1 leg? Make sure to try both sides!
- Fill a water bottle with water. Lift it up over your head or out to the side and see how long you can hold it for!
- With adult supervision, get a pile of books and see how many you can pick up at once time!
Creative project: Draw your Superhero persona.
Grab a piece of paper or download this FREE PDF
STILL WANT MORE?
Try Gratitude-filled breathing
Heart-Activation Breathing is a simple breathing technique that helps you relax your body and mind.
Here’s how it works:
Find a comfortable position and, just start to breathe – a little more deeply than normal. As you breathe in and out, imagine the air passing through your heart.
Tip: I like to place one hand on my heart and the other on my belly, like in the photo, especially when doing this with kids, to help feel the movement of the air and stay focused.
Keep going until you feel calmer. It works in as little as a minute or two!
Add a little gratitude to the activity by thinking of things that you are thankful for as you breathe in.
If you are the kind of person who likes guided meditations, I’ve created this 6-minute one for you!
What ever you celebrate,
🙏 I wish you peace and joy, love and light 🙏
And Many Moments of Magic!
Want to explore other holidays with yoga?
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Learn the MAGICALLY SIMPLE secret to communicating more calmly in 1 MINUTE OR LESS!