Winter festivals traditions around the world
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Winter festivals & Traditions Around the World. Information & Resource Pack December 2009. Guidance Notes. All links are live when viewed in Slideshow mode (press F5) To access the packs online Left click on link Choose save/open from menu Click OK

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Winter festivals & Traditions Around the World

Information & Resource Pack

December 2009

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Guidance Notes

  • All links are live when viewed in Slideshow mode (press F5)

  • To access the packs online

    • Left click on link

    • Choose save/open from menu

    • Click OK

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      • Please feel free to use some or all of the slides as part of a PowerPoint presentation

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  • GUIDANCE NOTES how to use this pack – saving, printing and editing

  • TOP 10 WEBSITES background information on the major winter festivals

  • ADDITIONAL RESOURCES some great crafts and activities – and the recipes look good, too

  • INTRODUCTION some ideas on other curriculum resources to look at


  • ICEBREAKERS 1 Taking Sides

  • ICEBREAKERS 2 Forwards & Backwards and Festive Hoax

  • FESTIVE BINGO who can fill their bingo card first?

  • DISCUSSION POINTS some ideas to think and talk about with a group

  • FESTIVE QUIZ PART 1 festive themed questions

  • FESTIVE QUIZ PART 2 and more of the same

  • FESTIVE QUIZ ANSWERS who’s the festive quiz champion at your centre?

  • FESTIVE SESSION IDEAS some quick fixes for your festive season sessions

  • WINTER HOLIDAYS keep a comparison chart of the similarities & differences


  • CHRISTMAS information on the history & some of the traditions of Christmas

  • CHRISTMAS FUN FACTS QUIZ true or false

  • CHRISTMAS FUN FACTS ANSWERS do NORAD really track Santa?

  • CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS using salt dough to make lovely things for the tree

  • CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS and using some geometry to make fabulous snowflakes

  • CHOCOLATE FUDGE SNOWBALLS delicious little fudge treats with hardly any cooking

  • CHRISTMAS RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS just in case you need a few more ideas...

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  • CHINESE NEW YEAR the history and traditions of this amazing celebration

  • CHINESE ZODIAC QUIZ find out who’s a famous pig – and what your sign is


  • CHINESE NEW YEAR CRAFTS – make some lanterns and a dragon puppet

  • EASY MOONCAKES RECIPE make some scrummy mooncakes – not quite the real thing but still delicious

  • EXTRA RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS more useful links and ideas


  • DIWALI the history & traditions of the ‘Festival of Light’

  • DIWALI WORDSEARCH can you find the words in the grid?

  • DIWALI CRAFTS design your own Rangoli and make beautiful diyas to decorate your centre

  • DIWALI SWEETS delicious no cook sweets to celebrate with

  • EXTRA RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS more useful links and ideas


  • EID the history and traditions of the festival

  • EID WORDSEARCH find the words in the grid

  • EID CRAFT ACTIVITIES decorate a donations box, design beautiful mendhi and send an Eid card

  • KLAICHA gorgeous date pastries recipe

  • EXTRA RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS more useful links and ideas


  • HANUKKAH the traditions and history

  • MENORAH QUIZ can you light the Menorah by naming these celebrities who share a Jewish ancestry?

  • MENORAH QUIZ ANSWERS how well did you do?

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  • HANUKKAH CRAFTS make a Menorah and see how lucky you are in the dreidel game

  • POTATO LATKES delicious potato pancakes

  • EXTRA RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS more useful links and ideas


  • KWANZAA learn more about the origins and 7 principles of this modern celebration

  • KWANZAA WORD SCRAMBLE how well do you know the 7 principles of Kwanzaa?


  • KWANZAA CRAFTS African mask making and how to make and play oware, the oldest game in the world

  • OWARE the rules and how to play this deceptively simple game

  • BENNE CAKES delicious little sesame seed flavoured mouthfuls (allergy warning: not suitable for sesame allergies)

  • EXTRA RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS more useful links and ideas


  • YULE the origins of the original winter celebration

  • YULE WORD SCRAMBLE can you solve the clues and unscramble the answer

  • YULE WORD SCRAMBLE ANSWERS did you get it right?

  • YULE CRAFTS make some edible decorations for the birds and pimp some ordinary candles into something fab

  • WASSAIL make your own cup of cheer – and why not learn the Wassail song while you do it?

  • EXTRA RESOURCES/SESSION IDEAS more useful links and ideas

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Top 10 WebsitesAll links are LIVE in Slideshow View – press F5

  • Ten Ages of Christmas excellent BBC site looking at the way Christmas has been celebrated down the ages

  • Eid-al-Fitr information on how Eid is celebrated plus links to more information and other resources. This year Eid-al-Adha is celebrated in November

  • Diwali Festival of Lights official website for the Diwali festival

  • Yule an informative and amusing site looking at the way many of our Christmas traditions evolved from the Pagan celebration of Yule

  • Kwanzaa more on the Pan-African festival from the official website

  • Hanukkah packed full of information, activities, a kid’s zone and more this site tells you all you need to know about celebrating

  • Chinese New Year celebrations, decorations, food, superstitions and much, much more

  • Winter Festivals around the World celebrating the diversity of winter festival celebrations

  • Kent Christmas Events information on some of the main Christmas events across Kent – you can check togogo for more details

  • Assembly Year Planner scroll down for links to activities celebrating festivals in November & December (not all are religious) – a great year planner for other festivals/holidays, too

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Additional Resources

  • Teachernet has some great resources on Winter Festivals including the science of Santa

  • A great selection of Diwali activities and crafts

  • Stuff4teaching has links to some great ideas and activities including pop up cards suitable for any winter holiday

  • Woodlands Junior School has collected some great Christmas activities & resources and Kented has some additional online games and videos

  • Curled paper greeting card activity from Crayola – suitable for any winter festival

  • Printable Hanukkah wordsearch, crossword and more

  • Printable Eid activities and links to plenty more

  • Extensive list of craft activities for just about every occasion

  • Kwanzaa resources including crafts and online activities

  • Chinese New Year printables, games & posters

  • Activity Village resources are aimed at younger children but include crafts and puzzles that any age will enjoy

  • Winter Carnival activities – great for fundraising

  • Fabulous index of festival dishes for Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Eid and more

  • Save the Children Christmas Wish List lesson plan

  • An American site with multicultural lesson plans around the festive season

  • Discovery online puzzlemaker produces wordsearches, scrambled words, crosswords and more

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ECM OUTCOMES: Enjoy & Achieve, Make a Positive Contribution


Winter is a busy time for holidays and festivals and this pack concentrates on 7 which show the diversity of tradition and celebration around the world but also highlight the underlying values of community, family and charity that all these holidays share.

With each holiday light is recognized both for its connection to human life, but also as a religious and cultural symbol. As these are all festivals of lights in some way, the pack includes activities to make diyas and menorahs – obviously you will need to risk assess whether young people can light them in the centre or whether they are for display only. There are obviously a huge number of craft activities linked to these holidays and links are given to activities that don’t need a high level of skill so as to be inclusive of all levels of ability – again, you will be able to assess how you can make those activities more challenging. There are also plenty of ideas for decorating your centre for each of these holidays – and why not try a good clean first as is common to holidays like Eid and Chinese New Year?

The pack also includes a number of recipes and links to more – food and feasting is so central to all these celebrations. Perhaps you could use the recipes as the basis of a buffet for an international evening celebrating holidays from around the world, or you could cook up some of the cakes and cookies and sell them to fund raise for charity or your centre. Or why not pack some up as gifts, put holes in them for use as hanging ornaments or give some away to children’s homes, hospitals & old people’s homes (check their policy on donations first). ALLERGY WARNING: please check the recipes carefully for any allergies e.g. The Benne cakes contain sesame, most recipes contain egg – check the extra resources page for links to recipes that may be more suitable.

Finally, whilst some of these holidays are secular (like Kwanzaa) it is important to remember the values that unite all these festivals of light and bring us together to celebrate our similarities and our diversity.

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Mark a line down the middle of the room – a piece of string will do. Ask everyone in the group to stand on the line. Now make a series of statement loosely themed around the holiday season. Everyone must choose one preference or the other. Indicate which side of the room equals which choice.

Point out that, at some point, each person has shared something with everyone else – how can you use that to build positive relationships? What did it feel like to be in a minority on certain things?

Note the subjects that split the group equally – you could then use this to divide the group for other activities.

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Everyone sits in a circle (on the floor or on chairs). Ask a series of questions e.g.

If you’re wearing red, move one place to the right

If you’ve sent out all your Christmas cards, move 3 places left

If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, move 2 places left

(make up some more festive questions of your own)

If the place you want to move to is occupied, sit on that person’s lap – see how high you can stack before falling over. The first person to make it all the way round the circle wins.


Give everyone a piece of paper and ask them to write the answers to the following questions:

What is the most unusual gift you’ve ever received?

What’s your favourite holiday food?

What is your favourite tradition?

What’s the best or worst thing that’s ever happened to you during the holidays?

Tell the group 3 answers must be true and one must be a hoax – then read out your answers and guess which are true and which is made up.


Using the bingo card, find someone to fit each of the categories – first one to complete them all wins.

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Discussion Points

  • Discuss what Christmas is about – giving or receiving? Buying gifts for people close to you or giving money to charity? Emphasize the fact that charity and gift giving are common to all the winter holidays like Diwali, Eid, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

  • Think about the similarities and differences between Christmas and the other holidays celebrated at the same time – why is it important to be accepting and respectful of different holidays?

  • Discuss young people’s family traditions – pick up the similarities and differences even between young people celebrating the same holiday

  • What do you think are the real values behind the Christmas? And do you think that other holidays celebrated at this time share those values?

  • Should Christmas and the other winter festivals be replaced with one holiday that has elements of all the celebrations?

  • What do you do to help with the stress of the holiday season? Or do you love it and wish it could happen everyday?

  • How much money do you usually spend on gifts each year? Do you think it’s all too commercialised or do you and your family and friends set a budget or give money to charity?

  • What do you love most about the festive season? Is it a family tradition? Presents? Friends and parties? Or something more personal or spiritual?

  • What is your favourite memory of this time of year?

  • This festive season will be more difficult for a lot of families because of the economic situation. What good tips and hints do you have for surviving a credit crunched festive season?

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Festive Quiz


A Ninky Nonk costs £9.99 in the Argos catalogue but one was sold on ebay for £411. What is a Ninky Nonk?

  • The Lazy Town airship b) A new Nintendo game c) the train in ‘In the Night Garden’ d) a Transformer model

    W. Dobson did what for the first time in 1884?

  • Wrapped a Christmas present b) sent a Christmas card c) sang a Christmas carol d) baked a Christmas cake?


    The journalist Eve Pollard has a well known presenter for a daughter. Is she:

  • Fearne Cotton b) Alexa Chung c) Claudia Winkleman d) Fern Britton

    Trevor Eve is a famous actor – but what part did he become famous for playing?

  • Eddie Shoestring b) Eddie Tiepin c) Eddie Shoelace d) Eddie Bootlace


    Which Carol was voted Queen of the Jungle on ‘I’m a Celebrity...’?

  • Carol Vorderman b) Carol Smilie c) Carol Thatcher d) Carol Ann Duffy

    And which Carol became famous for her brains and beauty on Countdown?

  • Carol Thatcher b) Lewis Carroll c) Carol Singer d) Carol Vorderman


    Who invented the Christmas Cracker?

  • John Smith b) Dan Smith c) Tim Smith d) Tom Smith

    Who popularised the Christmas Tree in Britain in Victorian times?

    a) The Pope b) Prince Albert c) the Prime Minister d) Santa Claus

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Festive Quiz


Each year the President of the USA does what at Christmas?

  • Eats hot dogs for Christmas dinner b) pardons a turkey c) has a barbecue at the White House d) sleeps all day

    What is it illegal to eat in Britain on Christmas Day?

  • Turkey b) Brussels sprouts c) mince pies d) chocolates


    Which country traditionally holds a cricket test match on Boxing Day?

  • Australia b) India c) Pakistan d) England

    What nationality was the 7ft 2inch boxer that David Haye beat to become world champion?

  • French b) Russian c) Chinese d) Greek


    Hollyoaks is set in a fictional suburb of which British city?

  • Chester b) Manchester c) Leeds d) Brighton

    In which soap opera was Ivy Tilsley a character?

  • Eastenders b) Coronation Street c) Hollyoaks d) Neighbours


    Which one of these films doesn’t feature a happy ending on New Year’s Eve?

  • Bridget Jones’ Diary b) Sleepless in Seattle c) When Harry Met Sally d) The Apartment

    ‘New Year’s Day’ was a hit for which band in 1983?

    a) U2 b) Destiny’s Child c) The Sugababes d) The Beatles

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Festive Quiz Answers

  • A Ninky Nonk is the train in ‘In the Night Garden’

  • W. Dobson invented the Christmas Card

  • Eve Pollard’s daughter is ‘It Takes Two’ presenter Claudia Winkleman

  • Trevor Eve played Eddie Shoestring

  • Carol Thatcher became Queen of the Jungle

  • Carol Vorderman was the brains and the beauty on Countdown

  • Tom Smith invented the Christmas Cracker (and the company he formed still makes them)

  • Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, popularised the Christmas Tree (a custom in his native Germany)

  • Every Christmas the President of the USA pardons a turkey

  • Oliver Cromwell made it illegal to eat mince pies in the 17th century and this law has never been repealed

  • Australia holds a test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground that starts on Boxing Day

  • David Haye beat the Russian giant Nikolai Valuev

  • Hollyoaks is set in Chester

  • Ivy Tilsley was a character in Coronation Street

  • ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ features a happy ending on Christmas Eve

  • ‘New Year’s Day’ was one of the first big hits for U2

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Festive Session Ideas

  • Cut out (holly) leaf shapes and encourage each young person to write their hopes and wishes for the new year on one. Then attach to a twig or a drawing of a tree as part of your Christmas decorations.

  • Cut out several large circles of card and divide each one into a series of pie pieces. Each young person decorates a wedge of the circle and writes their Christmas wish on it. Laminate and hang from the ceiling as part of your decorations.

  • Learn to write/say your Christmas & New Year greetings in a variety of different languages - has a fairly exhaustive list – and write these up on decorated flip chart to display around your centre

  • Have a festive karaoke competition and sing along to your favourite festive songs

  • Stage a bring & buy sale – encourage everyone to get rid of at least one old present to make way for new ones. Send the proceeds to a local charity.

  • See if young people have any unwanted childhood toys that you can donate to a local hospital children’s ward or a toy library – check first about donations

  • Bake some of the recipes from this pack and have a festive bake sale to raise money for charity/your project

  • Have a festive games night – make and play the Dreidel game, make and play Oware, play online Mahjongg and try your hand at Antakshari (first player sings 2 lines of a song, then the next player must start a new song beginning with the last letter/word that was sung) - just to make things extra festive come in fancy dress (your Chinese zodiac symbol, Father Christmas etc etc.)

  • Complete the chart below – what similarities do these holidays share and what differences have you noticed between them

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Winter Holidays

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The word Christmas (or Christ's Mass) comes from the Old English name Cristes Maesse - Christ's Mass - and is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The first recorded observance occurred in Rome in AD360, but it wasn't until AD440 that the Christian Church fixed a celebration date of 25 December. In Dutch it is Kerstmis, in Latin Dies Natalis, the origin of the French Noël, and Italian Il natale; in German Weihnachtsfest, from a sacred vigil. The term Yule is of disputed origin. It is unconnected with any word meaning "wheel". The name in Anglo-Saxon was geol, feast: geola, the name of a month. For an extensive list of Christmas customs around the world visit

Father Christmas is based on a real person, St. Nicholas, which explains his other name 'Santa Claus' which comes from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas'. Nicholas was a Christian leader from Myra (in modern-day Turkey) in the 4th century AD. He was very shy, and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in a pair of shoes or stockings left by the fire to dry. This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children's stockings or shoes – in Holland, for example, children put out their shoes to receive gifts on December 5th, the day before the the feast of St Nicholas.

In English-speaking countries, the day following Christmas Day is called 'Boxing Day'. This word comes from the custom which started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would open their 'alms boxe' (boxes in which people had placed gifts of money) and distribute the contents to poor people in the neighbourhood on the day after Christmas. The tradition continues today - small gifts are often given to delivery workers such as postal staff and children who deliver newspapers.

Christmas in the UK has become a time for gifts, parties, fun and family and is part of a tradition of winter festivals stretching back hundreds of years. For more information on all the aspects of Christmas traditions, celebrations and the Christmas story visit and

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Christmas Fun Facts Quiz

True or False?

  • The North American Aerospace Defence Command tracks Santa’s progress on their radars every Christmas Eve

  • China is the leading manufacturer of fake Christmas trees

  • On Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know it’s Christmas...’ the first line was sung by David Bowie

  • Reindeers lose their antlers every year

  • Oliver Cromwell sent in the army to search for people eating illegal Christmas dinners

  • ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’ and ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ were written by Lennon & McCartney

  • The Met Office employ someone specially to check the roof of their building for snow on Christmas Day

  • 50 Cents was once hospitalised when a Christmas pudding he was eating exploded

  • In a test, Manchester Airport’s security machines couldn’t tell the difference between Christmas pudding and Semtex (an explosive)

  • The custom of decorating the Christmas tree originated in Turkey

  • Mistletoe is sometimes known as the ‘Vampire Plant’

  • Holly trees can be male and female

  • The song ‘White Christmas’ was made popular by Frank Sinatra

  • Christmas crackers were originally known as ‘Bon Bons’

  • Abbreviating Christmas as Xmas is illegal in Italy

  • Christmas Carols are named after a girl called Carol who was the first person to sing them

  • It’s traditional to exchange kisses under a sprig of ivy

  • Santa Claus has his own postcode

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Christmas Fun Facts Answers

  • True – and they’ve been doing it for 40 years! Follow Santa at

  • True – they manufacture about 80% of all fake Christmas trees

  • False, it was Paul Young

  • True – male reindeers lose their antlers in December, females in the New Year

  • True

  • False – but they were written by the same man, Johnny Marks

  • False – a team of people to check the roof of the building for snow, which is the official proof of a white Christmas

  • False

  • True

  • False, it originated in Germany

  • True, due to the fact that it draws nourishment from its host plant

  • True

  • False, it was Bing Crosby

  • True – bon bons were a type of sweet in a paper wrapper twisted at each end

  • False

  • False – ‘carol’ comes from the French ‘caroller’ which means to dance round in a circle

  • False – you exchange kisses under the mistletoe

  • True – you can write to him at

    Santa/Father Christmas, Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, SAN TA1

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Christmas Decorations

Making your own decorations is fun, saves money and can be eco friendly. One of the easiest things to make are salt dough decorations:


  • 2 cups plain flour

  • 1 cup salt

  • 1 cup water

    Mix the dry ingredients then slowly add the water until you have a firm dough. Knead for 5 - 10 minutes. Bake decorations at 165C or Gas Mark 3 depending on the thickness. These can take up to 90 minutes. If you make sure they dry out completely, they last indefinitely when painted and varnished. Print out the shapes below to use as templates or design your own – why not try footballs, your pet or use biscuit cutters:

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Christmas Decorations - Snowflakes


These are really easy to make and, like the real thing, no 2 are ever the same. You can decorate them with glitter to hang from the ceiling or on a tree or you could stick them to a folded card to make an easy and effective Christmas card.

  • Fold a piece of paper in half

  • Now divide into 3 triangles each with a 60° angle like this (you might find it easier to use a protractor):

    3. Fold along each dotted line

    4. Cut a curve along the bottom so your snowflake is circular like this:

    5. Now start cutting patterns into your paper – be as adventurous as you like!

    6. Carefully open up and see what you’ve got!

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Chocolate Fudge Snowballs


300 grams of DARK CHOCOLATE (this will need to be at least 70% cocoa solids or the recipe won’t work)

400 gram tin of CONDENSED MILK


  • Break the chocolate into pieces and put in a microwaveable bowl

  • Heat on full power for 1 minute and stir.

  • Melt for an extra 30 seconds and stir.

  • If the chocolate still hasn’t melted, heat for an extra 20 seconds – be careful not to overcook

  • Stir until the chocolate is smooth then stir in the condensed milk – the mixture will start to thicken

  • Pour into a foil tray and leave to set at least for a few hours but preferably overnight

  • Cut the fudge into pieces

  • Roll the pieces in your hands quickly to make ball shapes

  • Now you can roll them in: icing sugar, desiccated coconut, finely chopped nuts or white chocolate sprinkles to make them look like snowballs.

  • Stack your snowballs on a plate and decorate with holly, or pack in a nice gift box with a label to give as a present.

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Other Resources & Session Ideas

  • Santa’s Postbag has some great things to make and do for Christmas as does the allfreecrafts site, which caters for a range of abilities

  • If you decorate a tree at your centre there are some great decoration makes here – otherwise why not decorate an online tree? Find some great ideas for eco friendly decorations here

  • An easy and fun way to make a snow globe from any waterproof figure and a jam jar!

  • Martha Stewart has some great ideas for Christmas crafts involving gifts to make like bath bombs and soaps – you could spend a session making gifts either for family and friends or to sell at a Christmas fundraiser. Or bake some of her amazing Christmas cookies as tree ornaments, gifts or to sell.

  • Spend a session making Christmas cards – there are plenty of ideas to choose from or why not use this online Christmas card designer? You choose templates, add a greeting then download and print

  • Download these tips for surviving Christmas – do the group agree with them? Which ones do they agree and disagree with? Would they add more of their own? Put together a short ‘survival guide’ for Christmas and the New Year.

  • TES have a range of lesson plans with transferable activities (free registration required) as does Teacher’s Corner which is free to use and includes printable activity sheets (this is an American site so some spellings may be different).

  • Use Discovery Puzzle Maker to develop some fun Christmas puzzles – or encourage young people to make their own and print out and test each other.

  • Trivia Park has an online Christmas quiz with a range of levels, whilst this Christmas quiz gives you the option to ‘ask the web’. Other good quizzes can be found at CBBC and here (this quiz is huge and there are also some Christmas riddles that you could be used in Christmas crackers). You could also use the ‘Millionaire’ quiz template from the November bullying pack to develop a ‘Millionaire’ style Christmas/festive quiz.

  • Make Christmas crackers – ask everyone to save a toilet roll holder and follow the clear, step by step picture instructions at Moockychick (please note, it’s probably best not to use cracker snaps)

  • Play Christmas games like the celebrity game – write the name of a celebrity on a small piece of paper and stick on each player’s back. They must then ask questions and guess who they are. Or have a game of charades. For more ideas check out the Christmas World website or try some online Christmas games here

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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving.

Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will range from pigs, to ducks, to chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile forgetting all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out. The house must be cleaned and all debts settled before New Year. Other superstitions include not using scissors or knives on New Year’s Day as this may cut off fortune and it’s considered unlucky to greet anyone from the bedroom. Though most Chinese people no longer believe these superstitions they are still practiced as part of the traditions and customs of New Year.

One of the most famous sights of Chinese New Year is the dragon dance. Dragon and lion dances are common during Chinese New Year. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively can evict bad or evil spirits. To wish someone happy New Year in Chinese try saying: Gung Hay Fat Choy! (may prosperity be with you, Cantonese) or Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy New Year in Mandarin).

For more information on Chinese New Year and the lunar calendar visit

For some fun Chinese New Year activities try

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Chinese Zodiac Quiz

To find your own sign, visit

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Chinese Zodiac Quiz Answers













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Chinese New Year Crafts


Fold a rectangle of paper in half to make a long, thin rectangle

Make evenly spaced cuts along the fold

Unfold and glue or tape end together to make a shape as shown.

Attach a piece of paper for a handle as shown.

Red is the traditional colour for Chinese New Year but try making a series of lanterns in different colours and patterns?


Fold a rectangle of paper in half and then cut in half along the fold

Fold each piece like a fan and then glue or tape together to make a long, thin body

Cut out a head and tail from cardboard and decorate with patterns, glitter, googly eyes etc. Then glue or tape to the body

Finally add a couple of sticks to your dragon and make him dance!

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Easy Moon Cakes Recipe

Moon Cakes are eaten at the Moon Festival (which falls in September) and for New Year because the festival is based on a lunar calendar. Moon cakes can contain a variety of fillings like sweet red bean paste, hard boiled eggs and lotus paste but these are filled with jam – easier to get and just as delicious. Try and use red jam as the Chinese believe the colour red brings good luck and prosperity.




½ cup of BUTTER

1 cup of PLAIN FLOUR


  • Preheat the oven to 190°C or Gas Mark 5

  • Mix together the softened butter, sugar and 1 egg yolk

  • Stir in the flour

  • Mix the dough into a ball and chill for 30 minutes

  • Form small balls of the mixture

  • Make a hole in the centre with your thumb

  • Fill hole with jam

  • Place on baking sheet and brush cakes with beaten egg

  • Bake for about 20 minutes until lightly brown

  • Cool then eat and enjoy!

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More Resources & Session Ideas

  • Find out more about the fascinating Chinese Zodiac and find out which celebrities were born under your sign!

  • Some great Chinese New Year crafts – don’t miss the tangram puzzle!

  • Try some authentic Chinese New Year recipes from Malaysia and find out more about food symbolism at New Year

  • Year of the Ox crafts (suitable for younger children)

  • Some great Chinese New Year resources from (American site)

  • Teacher’s Corner is another American site with excellent resources, particularly puzzles

  • General information on Chinese New Year from Wikipedia

    Why not organise a Chinese New Year’s party with dragons, lanterns and mooncakes?

    Design Chinese New Year good luck posters featuring the greeting in Chinese lettering and images of the Tiger?

    Follow the Chinese New Year cyberhunt

    Have a chopsticks race – see who can pass an object between team members fastest using only chopsticks!

    See who’s the chopstick champion by trying to pick up a variety of things – rice, peas, spaghetti – with chopsticks

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Twenty days after Dusshera comes Diwali, the Festival of Lights. It is celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs during the month of October or November at the end of the rainy season, and around harvest time.  Diwali (also spelt and pronounced Divali) comes from the word 'Deepavali' meaning "cluster of lights". Small earthenware lamps called 'diwas' are lit in every home.  The lighting of lamps is said to invoke Lakshmi Pooja, the Goddess of fortune and wealth. People believe that Lakshmi brings prosperity which is denied to those who leave their home unlit on the day. They are also lit to signify the triumph of good over evil in each individual.

In preparation for Diwali, house and shops are scrubbed clean and doorsteps are decorated with multi-coloured designs called 'Rangoli'. Houses are painted inside and outside. New pots and pans are bought. Even the animals are washed, groomed and decorated. People wear their best clothes or buy new ones. Very often gifts are exchanged between families and friends. Elaborate foods are prepared, and the food most typical of Diwali is a variety of sweetmeats beautifully decorated with nuts, spices and silver paper. The silver paper used is edible. The lighting of fireworks is another essential feature of the Diwali festivities. 

Rangoli designs are traditionally made out of coloured sand or rice powder. They are placed outside the door of the house and are meant as a welcome sign to visitors.  A frequent design, the lotus flower, can be found drawn in many forms and usually signifies richer understanding and prosperity.

While the story behind Diwali varies from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the inner light (Atman) or the underlying reality of all things (Brahman).

For more information visit and

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Diwali Wordsearch

HinduSikhLakshmiRangoliprosperitysweetslightsfireworkslotus flowerAtman BrahmanDiwali

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Diwali Crafts


A rangoli is a colourful design made on the floor near the entrance to a house to welcome guests. They are traditionally made with coloured sand or rice.

Copy one of the designs below or find more at then colour and display.



Take a piece of air hardening modelling clay.

Roll into a ball and then flatten out.

Mould over the bottom of a cup.

Decorate with beads, sequins etc and leave to harden.

Place tealight in the centre and display.


You will need:

A small glass jar

Craft wire

Beads or glass paints

Use the wire to make a handle around the neck of the jar.

Now either paint the jar with glass paints or thread beads on wire and wrap around the jar. Add a tealight and display.

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Diwali Sweets

Diwali is synonymous with 'mithai' or sweets. The Gods are offered different types of Mithai which are then distributed among family members and friends. Traditional sweets are made of cashews, ghee, daal and mango. Here’s an easy, no cook recipe for some coconut sweets:



  • Mix the condensed milk together with the icing sugar

  • Mix in the desiccated coconut

  • The mixture will get very stiff but keep mixing

  • Divide mixture and add different food colourings, if you like

  • Either press into a tin and cut out different shapes or roll into balls and put in paper cases

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Other Resources & Session Ideas

  • Fantastic resources at this Diwali site

  • A nice collection of Rangoli pattern templates – try marking them out in coloured rice or sand, or draw them in chalk outside your centre to welcome guests

  • Send a Diwali card with a fun game attached

  • Nice selection of Diwali craft especially suitable for younger children or try this site for recipes, crafts and more. For card and diya ideas try Artists Helping Children

  • Try these delicious Diwali recipes and enjoy the BBC guide to Diwali food

  • BBC links to Diwali resources & lesson plans and BBC newsround lesson plan

  • Great PowerPoint presentations on all aspects of Diwali

    Some Hindus try to scare away Alaksmi, the goddess of bad luck, by making loud noises – see if you can come up with some suitably scary sounds

    The goddess Lakshmi loves flowers – why not draw and make fake flowers to decorate the centre? Or try designing colourful Lakshmi footprints, a tradition for Diwali (draw round your foot and decorate then display)

    Make a Diwali doorway entrance to welcome everyone to your centre during Diwali

    Crackers are a great part of the Diwali celebrations – why not try the cracker making activity from the Christmas resource ideas?

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Eid-Ul-Fitr is the holiday that follows the month of Ramadhan and falls on the 1st day of Shawwal, the 10th month in the Hijra calendar. The festival of Eid goes all the way back to Abraham ( or Ibrahim) and the sacrificial slaughter of the sheep. Today it's a time to think of those who are not so well off, to remember the dead, and to spend quality time with family and friends. Eid is traditionally a time for Muslims to reflect on the spreading of peace and justice throughout the world.

Fasting is forbidden on this day, as it marks the end of the month long fast of Ramadhan. People are encouraged to rise early and eat some dates or a light, sweet snack. As this is a special day, Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new if possible. Children are normally given gifts. Women (particularly mothers, wives, sisters and daughters) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. The day always starts with special Eid prayers at the main mosque (also attended by the women in some countries), followed later in the day by a large celebratory lunch at the house of the senior member of the family. This is a day for family rather than for public celebration. On Eid el-Fitr itself, the family lunch will consist of biryani (a mixed rice dish of meat and spices), sago dishes, stuffed, sweet pastries (sambouseh), and other sweetmeats.

Muslims also pay Zakat al Fitr, a donation to the poor – this can take the form of money or food (sometimes a lamb is slaughtered). This helps to spread wealth and develops a real sense of community and brotherhood between Muslims, whatever their background.

The traditional greeting is ‘Eid Mubarak’ which translates as ‘Happy Eid’. The traditional Eid prayer is:

Allaho-Akber, Allaho-Akber. La ila-ha ill-lal-lah. Allaho-Akber, Allaho-Akber. Wa-lilahill hamd. (Allah is great, Allah is great. There is no god but Allah. Allah is great, Allah is great. And all praises are for Allah).

To find out more about Eid visit


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Eid Wordsearch










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Eid Craft Activities


Charity is a big part of the festival of Eid, as is the idea of thanksgiving. Why not encourage everyone to give to those less well off by decorating a donations box – place it in your centre for a month and at the end of that time donate the contents to a local charity or old people’s home.


A cardboard box

Wrapping paper

Plain paper



Cover the box with wrapping paper, then decorate with appropriate cut outs – these might include crescent moon, stars and flowers (all traditional decorations for Eid).

Why not make a series of boxes for food, clothing, toys etc? and stack and display them in your centre?


Mehndi is the art of decorating hands with henna to produce complex and beautiful designs for special occasions like Eid. In the West this is sometimes referred to as a ‘henna tattoo’.

As part of your Eid celebrations, why not try creating some mendhi designs – draw round your hand on a piece of blank paper and then let your imagination run riot. For the most realistic effect use flesh coloured paper and brown felt tips then cut out and use as a decoration. For some great ideas try


You could also design an Eid greetings card with the traditional greeting ‘Eid Mubarak’ and decorations of crescent moon and stars. Why not try writing the greeting in Arabic:

عيد مبارك

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The eating of dates is very significant during Ramadhan and Eid as this is believed to be the way the prophet Mohammed broke his fast. These delicious date pastries are good at any time of day!



1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.2. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar.3. Sprinkle over the rose water, add the water and mix to make a firm dough.4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge while you prepare the dates.5. Chop the stoned dates and sauté them in butter.6. When the dates are cool, take some of the pastry dough and make a round ball the size of a large walnut. Flatten in the hands, add some cooled dates and fold over into a small crescent.7. Prick the edges with a fork.8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.To make this recipe easier, you could buy sweetened shortcrust pastry and sprinkle the dates with rosewater – either way these pastries will be delicious!

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More Resources & Session Ideas

  • Comprehensive list of Eid resources including activities and puzzles

  • Eid recipes & food customs from the BBC

  • Send an Eid e-card

  • History, cards, prayers, traditions and more at this comprehensive Eid site

  • BBC lesson plans and links to other ideas and a Ramadhan lesson plan from BBC newsround

  • The Eid Magazine has stories and information about celebrating Eid in London

  • Three excellent craft activities from the Treasure Box

    Why not cook up a storm? Eid celebrates the end of the fast so why not cook up some delicious Eid recipes? Try the BBC site above for ideas?

    Greeting cards are very popular for Eid – try the templates and ideas here or why not make a card online to print out later? There’s a range of online cards here but design input is limited until they’re printed out.

    See if you can find someone in the area to come and do a Mehdi evening with a girl’s group

    To celebrate Eid why not clean your centre from top to bottom?

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Hanukkah is an eight day holiday starting on the 25th night of the Jewish month of Kislev. Hanukkah (The Hebrew word means 'Dedication') is also known as the Festival of Lights. The holiday goes back almost 2,400 years. Hanukkah celebrates one of the greatest miracles in Jewish history, the miracle of the oil. After the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, only one small bottle of oil was found to light the Menorah (a six-stemmed candelabrum) yet, miraculously, it stayed alight for 8 days. Jewish people commemorate this by lighting the Hanukiah (an eight-stemmed candelabrum) each day of the celebration. Though candles are more common nowadays, traditionally the Menorah should be filled with olive oil.

Like Christmas, Hanukkah is a special time for children. Gifts and Hanukkah money (gelt) are exchanged. Children are given money with the expectation they will give some to charity. Some families give a small present on each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Children and adults play with a spinning top called a dreidel. This cube-shaped dice has a Hebrew letter on each side. To begin the game, each player has 10-20 objects, often raisins or sweets. Each person puts one object in the middle. Then each person takes a turn at spinning the dreidel. The letter that the dreidel shows when it has finished spinning determines whether they win or lose the stake.

Hanukkah is also a great time for eating delicious foods. Some dishes have special significance, such as latkes (a kind of potato fritter), pancakes and doughnuts. This is because they are fried in oil and so Jewish people remember the miracle of the oil lasting eight days in the temple. Dairy foods are also eaten at Hanukkah, in commemoration of the bravery of Yehudit who fed cheese to Holofernes and won the Maccabees a great and unexpected victory.

To read Yehudit’s story and to discover more about the Hanukkah holiday, visit

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Hanukkah Quiz

For each question you get right, draw a candle in the Menorah – now see if you can light them by answering the bonus questions and drawing a flame on each one! Write the answers in the spaces provided then complete your Menorah.

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Hanukkah Quiz


All these famous people are of Jewish descent – can you name them?

  • He’s a teen idol who is most famous for appearing in ‘High School Musical’ BONUS Can you name the character he played in ‘HSM’? ANSWERS: ZAC EFRON, TROY BOLTON

  • He is most famous for his Theory of Relativity – can you name him? BONUS What is the Theory of Relativity? ANSWERS: ALBERT EINSTEIN, E=MC2

  • This famous footballer has played for teams in the UK, Spain and the USA. Name him. BONUS What’s the name of his current team? ANSWERS: DAVID BECKHAM, AC MILAN (Becks has a Jewish grandfather)

  • This American magician is famous for his stunts like fasting for 44 days in a glass box – can you name him? BONUS Where was the glass box suspended a) over the river Seine b) over the Hudson river c) Over the river Thames ANSWERS: DAVID BLAINE, C) RIVER THAMES (Blaine has a Jewish mother)

  • A famous reggae star, his hits include ‘Get Busy’, ‘Gimme the Light’ and ‘Baby Boy’. What’s his name? BONUS What’s the name of his mega selling first album? ANSWERS: SEAN PAUL, DUTTY ROCK (Paul has a Jewish father, though he was raised as a Catholic)

  • He’s one half of one of the most popular comedy duos in the UK and also appears on ‘Shooting Stars’. Can you name him? BONUS What’s the catchphrase of the character Vicky Pollard? ANSWERS: MATT LUCAS, ‘YEAH BUT NO BUT’

  • She plays the most famous of the ‘Sex and the City’ girls and has her own perfumes. Name her. BONUS What’s the name of her character in SATC? ANSWERS: SARAH JESSICA PARKER, CARRIE BRADSHAW

  • This wartime leader, famous for his fat cigars, had a Jewish mother – can you name him? BONUS with what breed of dog is he associated? ANSWERS: WINSTON CHURCHILL, BRITISH BULLDOG

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Hanukkah Crafts



Find 8 glass jars of the same size (baby food jars are ideal!) and one slightly larger jar. Wash the jars well and dry, then decorate with beads, sequins, stick on gems, glass paints etc.

Fill each jar with small beads or coloured sand, or place a blob of modelling clay in the bottom and add your candles – the slightly larger jar will hold the shamash - the candle used to light all the others.

You could substitute pretty glasses for the glass jars.


Find 2 potatoes of roughly the same size, each big enough to hold 4 candles.

Decorate with decoupage, glitter, beads, sequins etc.

Scoop out holes in each potato the same size as your candle.

For more simple Menorah ideas visit


You will need: small drink cartons, glue, paint, pencil

First, paint your empty carton with a mixture of PVA glue and paint and leave to dry. You can now decorate each of the 4 sides with the following symbols (one on each side):

SHIN put in HEY win half GIMEL win all NUN Nothing

Now poke the pencil through the middle of the dreidel and spin!


You can play with tokens (about 10 each – use buttons, game counters or even chocolate coins) or play for points. Everyone puts in 2 counters to start.

NUN – miss a turn, 0 points

GIMEL – take everything, 20 points

HEY – take half (plus 1 if there’s an odd number), 5 points

SHIN – put 2 in, -2 points

The four letters which appear on the four corners of a dreidel allude to the miracle of Hanukkah. They spell out: Nes (N-miracle), Gadol (G-great), Haya (H-happened) and Sham (S-there, meaning in Israel)

A Great Miracle Happened Here

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Potato Latkes

Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil, it is celebrated with a lot of fried food like these potato pancakes or Sufganyot (doughnuts). These are traditionally served with apple sauce and sour cream and are delicious!


4 large RED POTATOES, peeled & grated on large holes of grater

1 small WHITE ONION, finely grated

2 large EGGS, lightly beaten

1/4 cup WATER

3 tablespoons PLAIN FLOUR

1 tablespoon SALT

Freshly ground PEPPER

VEGETABLE OIL, for frying

APPLE SAUCE, for serving (optional)

SOUR CREAM, for serving (optional)

  • Squeeze the liquid out of grated potatoes into a bowl and allow liquid to settle for 10 minutes

  • Pour off all of the liquid but keep the milky residue which is the potato starch.

  • Mix the potatoes, onion, egg, water, flour, salt and pepper into the reserved potato starch.

  • Heat ½ inch of oil in a frying pan. Add a spoonful of mixture for each latke and fry on both sides until golden brown (this will take about 4-6 minutes). Keep warm under a low grill or in the oven

  • Serve with apple sauce and sour cream

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More Resources & Session Ideas

  • Everything you need to know about Hanukkah at this resource rich site

  • BBC schools have their own plans and quizzes and links to more

  • Hanukkah stories, videos, recipes and much more from and decorations, quizzes and letterheads from the Holiday Spot

  • Play online Hanukkah games and find other fun resources like colouring pages and music

  • Printable dreidel template and more crafts plus other ideas and activities from Activity Village

  • Delicious Hanukkah recipes including healthy potato and fruit latkes!

  • Comprehensive list of lesson plans for Hanukkah

  • Explore the world of Hanukat

    Make pop up Dreidel cards or wall decorations

    All the festivals in this pack have elements of light in them – lanterns, candelabra, yule logs etc – create a gallery of all the lights involved in these festivals of light and decorate your pictures with fairy lights. This would also be a good place to display any Chinese lanterns, diya or Menorah you’ve made.

    Find a good recipe for sufganyot (doughnuts) or buy some, then decorate with edible glitter, sprinkles and writing icing (try writing the 4 symbols from the dreidel on them) – then eat and enjoy or donate to a children’s home or hospital/old people’s home.

    Put a box of small envelopes with a slip of paper in them somewhere in your centre. Ask young people to write an activity they’d like to do, a charity they’d like to raise money for and a trip they’d like to take on a piece of paper and then post in the box. Open after Hanukkah and evaluate the contents to help you plan for 2010.

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Kwanzaa, which will be celebrated for the 44th time between 26th December and 1st January 2009, was established by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The festival is secular, not religious, and aims to strengthen African cultural identity and community values while providing a spiritual alternative to the commercialism of Christmas.

Kwanzaa, which comes from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," meaning "first fruits," is celebrated in a number of ways. People decorate their homes with the colours of the African flag (bendera): black for the people, red for their struggle, and green for the future and hope that comes from their struggle. The mkeka (a straw or cloth mat) is laid out in a place of honour and on it are placed the kinara (candleholder) with red, green and black candles; mazao (crops) including family favourites like bananas and mangoes; muhindi (ears of corn) to represent the children of the house and a unity cup filled with water, grape juice or wine (kikombe cha umoja). Some families add other objects that reflect their African heritage.

The kinara is lit in a traditional way - the black candle on the first night, the black one plus the leftmost red one on the next night, those two plus the rightmost green one on the next, and so on. Each candle represents one of Kwanzaa's seven principles (nguzo saba) which are umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity), and imani (faith). The traditional Kwanzaa greeting is "Habari gani?" and the answer is the principle for that day.

The unity cup is first poured in the corners of the room to honour the ancestors and then passed around the room for all to sip. A communal feast is held on December 31 and gifts, usually culturally significant (zawadi) are exchanged.

Kwanzaa is an opportunity to celebrate culture, ancestry and heritage and to focus on family, community and history through reflection on the seven principles. To find out more, visit the official website

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Kwanzaa Word Scramble









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7 Principles Quiz

Umoja = unity

Kujichagulia = self determination

Ujima = responsibility

Ujamaa = cooperation (cooperative economy)

Nia = purpose

Kuumba = creativity

Imani - faith

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Kwanzaa Crafts


Copy the mask below or draw your own shape onto card. Cut out and decorate – add feathers, glitter, beads etc. and mount the mask on a stick.

Why not make a display of your finished masks?

For more ideas and templates try


You will need a large egg carton (one that holds a dozen eggs)

Remove the lid and glue to the underside of the egg box:

Paint your oware board and decorate with Kwanzaa symbols, beads, African figureheads etc.

To play the game you will need:

48 counters – beans, buttons or beads work well.

Place 4 beans in each cup.


Oware is the oldest game in the world and has been played all over the world!

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Rules of Oware

Player A picks up all the stones from any cup. Starting with the next cup to the right, drops one stone at a time into each successive cup. After he/she drops the last stone in a cup, Player A picks up all the stones in THAT cup and continues to drop one in each consecutive cup. Player A's turn ends when he/she puts the last seed in an empty cup. (Player A has the longest turn first)Player B then chooses any cup of stones and begins a turn exactly like Player A's. A player scores when he/she drops the last stone in a cup with THREE others (making FOUR stones in a cup). The player then puts all four stones in his/her "bank".If the player puts a stone in a cup with three others and it is not the last stone, the other player puts the four stones in his/her bank.The player who gets the next to the last four stones gets the remaining stones on the board. The player who has accumulated the most stones in his/her bank, WINS!

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Benne Cakes

Benne cakes come from West Africa. Benne means sesame seeds, which are eaten for good luck.

You will need:

1 cup of BROWN SUGAR





½ cup of PLAIN FLOUR


Pinch of SALT


  • Preheat the oven to 170°C, Gas Mark 3

  • Beat the butter and sugar til they’re creamy

  • Stir in the egg, vanilla and lemon juice

  • Add flour, baking powder, salt & sesame seeds

  • Drop spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart

  • Bake for 15 minutes until the edges are browned

  • Cool on a wire rack then enjoy!

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More Resources & Session Ideas

  • Kwanzaa video from the History Channel

  • Kwanzaa crafts and activities from Enchanted Learning

  • A wide range of Kwanzaa resources including activities, colouring pics and e-cards

  • A collection of soul food recipes for Kwanzaa and more information about the traditions of Kwanzaa and some pan African recipes

  • African craft ideas great for celebrating Kwanzaa

  • A wide range of Kwanzaa lesson plans can be found here –the symbol strips activity is a good way of reflecting on the 7 principles

  • Huge range of Kwanzaa lesson plans and printable activity sheets from TeacherVision (free sign up for a 7 day trial and some resources are free)

    Try writing an acrostic poem/rap about Kwanzaa (an acrostic means that each line of the poem/rap starts with the next letter of the word e.g. K is for …../W means that…./A stands for… and so on)

    Kwanzaa is a specially created holiday – try creating your own winter holiday: what would you call it? What traditions would you create? What would it celebrate?

    Read the libation statement here (at bottom of page). Ask young people to rewrite it in language relevant to themselves and their experience

    Play an online word match game or download the Kwanzaa word shape puzzle and play

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Did you know that, originally Christmas trees were hung upside down? That the famous yule log isn’t really a delicious chocolate cake at all but a real log used to bring light to the house during the long winter months? And that in Iceland they still celebrate the sinister and gargantuan Yule Cat, who, it seems, is ready to eat lazy humans and will certainly make sure you miss out on your Yule treat!

The celebration of Yule is most associated with Northern European countries where the winter days would barely see any light at all. The word ‘Yule’ either means ‘wheel’ (because the festival marks the turning of the seasons) or ‘feast’ (because it was a time for eating and drinking as we do today). In the Shetland Isles, the Yules last for a month between December 15th and January 15th and include the festival of Up Helly Aa the biggest fire festival in Europe.

Yule or Yule-tide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar. Yule celebrates the Winter Solstice when the long, light days begin to return after the dark of winter. Many of the festive traditions associated with Christmas came originally from the celebration of Yule – for example, using evergreens to decorate. Evergreens were cherished at this time of year as a natural symbol of rebirth and life amid winter whiteness. But holly was particularly prized to decorate doors, windows and fireplaces because of its prickliness - to keep away or capture evil spirits before they could enter and harm a household.

For more on Yule customs and practices visit

For craft ideas, recipes and more visit

For more on Yule customs and how they are used in the celebration of Christmas visit

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Yule Word Scramble

Unscramble the words using the clues, then drop the numbered letters into the box to spell out something celebrated in winter and summer

We burn this to keep


This prickly evergreen

is meant to trap fairies

It’s traditional to kiss

under this!

A fat festive feline

that eats people!

This turns and helps

a car to move

Plenty to eat and

drink is a ______

The biggest fire

Festival in Europe

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Yule Word Scramble Solution

We burn this to keep warm = YULE LOG

This prickly evergreen is meant to trap fairies = HOLLY

It’s traditional to kiss under this = MISTLETOE

A fat festive feline that eats people! = YULE CAT

This turns and helps a car to move = WHEEL

Plenty to eat and drink is a ___ = FEAST

The biggest Fire Festival in Europe = UP HELLY AA


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Yule Decorations


Grains and seeds, and the feeding of creatures have been associated with Yuletide holidays for hundred of years in Europe. Try making these bird seed cakes and balls and using them to decorate outside your centre:

  • Make a hole in the bottom of an old yoghurt pot. Thread through a piece of string and tie a strong knot so it stays in place

  • Melt 1 packet of lard in the microwave (be careful as this will spit).

  • Cool slightly and stir in the contents of a jar of peanut butter.

  • Add enough bird seed so the mixture binds together

  • Pack into the yoghurt pots or roll into balls

  • When set, cut away pots or put balls in the kinds of bags you get onions in and hang from a tree or hook.


    A bit of imagination can turn ordinary shop bought candles into great decorations.

  • Tie a length of string around the top of your candle

  • Dip your candle in very hot water until the exterior melts slightly – take great care with this stage – and use the string to pull it out

  • Now press on dried flowers, herbs, wrap with string or coloured wool, carve patterns and words into the wax, roll in glitter – let your imagination run riot.

  • The wax will harden again quite quickly so it’s best to have an idea of what you’re going to do before you start and work fast!

  • Group several candles together for a beautiful Yule display.

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Wassail means toasting the gods for a bountiful harvest with a hot, spiced punch often associated with Yule. MORE INFO ABOUT WASSAILING

This is a great non alcoholic recipe for serving at your festive celebration!






2 sticks CINAMMON

SUGAR to taste


Combine all ingredients in a pan and heat gently to combine the flavours.

Serve in mugs or heatproof glasses and sing the Wassailing Song:

Wassail! wassail! all over the town,Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown;Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree;With the wassailing bowl, we'll drink to thee.

Visit for the full lyrics and tune!

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Other Resources & Session Ideas

  • More information from the BBC and from

  • The origins and customs of Yule

  • 10 great craft ideas to celebrate Yule and winter snowcraft ideas from artists helping kids.

  • A collection of delicious yuletide recipes

  • A collection of lesson plans and ideas themed around the winter solstice

  • More on the winter solstice and yule from

    Yule is a festival that celebrates nature and everything in it – why not remember the other creatures that share the earth with us and get the young people at your centre to adopt a cat or dog (this costs a pound a week)

    Find a recipe for a yule log – the chocolate cake kind (or try this one) – and decorate with icing holly and mistletoe leaves. Serve as part of your festive party. You could also make mini ones to give as gifts or sell with other baked good to raise money for charity/your centre.

    This is a good time to think about the environment – the solstice signifies rebirth and a return to light. Ask young people to think about ways you can help the planet during the coming year and how these can be put into practice at your centre.

    At the winter solstice the three stars in Orion’s belt align with the brightest star (Sirius) and these alignment shows where the sun will rise the next morning. Ask young people to find out more about it, test it and report back Play some great online winter games – get young people to challenge each other to their favourites

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