Global Updates from World View

December 2011

World View Globe


Holidays Around the World, Third Edition


The world holiday originates from the term "holy day," although many define holidays as state or federally mandated days that students and employees do not work.  Holidays are a time where people focus on important religious, cultural, or global events. Educating students about holidays around the world is a great way to start service learning projects and integrate units on important global issues. This edition of Global Updates focuses on fall and winter holidays around the world and shines a special spotlight on New Year Celebrations and using holidays for service learning. 

Spotlight on the New Year



Special thanks to Yevgenia Arutyunyan, Charlotte Country Day,  

for information about the Russian New Year!


New Year in Russia is celebrated on January 1, the first day of the Gregorian Calendar.  "Amongst the most popular New Year symbols is a New Year's tree called Novogodnaya Yolka (New Year's tree) which is topped with a bright star" and decorated with ornaments. "Another popularly celebrated New Year tradition is the arrival of Ded Moroz, or Father Frost, and his granddaughter Snegurochka, the snow maiden. They bring in New Year presents for the good children and keep them under the New Year's Tree. Children sing a song [or recite a poem] to make Father Frost happy."


"The most important part of the New Year activities is the sumptuous dinner with light music and champagne that starts late in the evening." Every table serves "Stolichniy Salad" made with peas, potatoes, carrots, pickles, eggs, and sometimes chicken.  There will be plenty of meat, cakes, and flowing champagne.  At 11 pm, Russians toast "good bye to the old year" and then watch various New Year TV shows that include music, celebrities, famous New Year-themed movies until the President's speech that leads into the countdown from the Kremlin tower clock to midnight. 
Sources and More Information:
New Year in Russia 


Chinese New Year of 2012, THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON,

 begins January 23.

According to one legend, thousands of years ago an evil monster named Nian ravaged a village in China.  The following year Nian returned and again ravaged the village. Before it could happen a third time, the villagers devised a plan to scare the monster away.  Banners, in the protective color red, were hung everywhere. Firecrackers, drums, and gongs were used to create loud noises to scare the beast away.  The plan worked and a celebration followed during which people feasted, visited with each other, exchanged gifts, and danced.  Thus began a celebration, known as the Chinese New Year, also recognized as the Spring Festival.  The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, which dates back centuries before the calendar we use today.  


Preparations tend to begin a month from the date of the Chinese New Year, when people start buying presents, decorations, food, and clothing.  Chinese houses are cleaned from top to bottom, to sweep away any traces of bad luck.  Doors and windowpanes are given a new coat of paint, usually red, and are then decorated with paper banners and scrolls with themes such as happiness, wealth, and longevity printed on them.  New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year.  The dragon is another popular symbol for the Chinese New Year, representing strength, goodness, good luck, and supernatural forces.  The Festival of Lanterns marks the end of the New Year celebration.  

Sources and more information:
Chinese New Year
Holidays: Chinese New Year 




Diwalli is a New Year celebration and festival of lights that takes place across India between mid-October to mid-December.  Read more about Diwalli below!


Losar is the Tibetan New Year
Tibetan new Year 


Nowruz is the Iranian New Year 

Persian New Year 

Nowruz: History 

Nowruz: Background   


Using Holidays to Promote Global Awareness

"Rendering help to another is the function helping
of all human beings."
(Tattvarthasutra 5.21, Jain Religious Text) 






How to Use Service Learning to Engage Kids 
Learning by Giving:  Community Service as Classwork


Learning to Give,

Featured Lessons and Resources
Massachusetts Department of Education,
Community Lessons: Integrating Service Learning into the K-12 Curriculum


National Youth Leadership Council,

Resources: Featured Lessons, Activities, and Projects from the National Youth Leadership Council


Learn and Serve K-12 North Carolina 


Our Global Awareness,
Sustainable Living During the Holidays


Teaching Tolerance,
Celebrating Connections: understand similarities and differences in various religious traditions.   


Teach Unicef,

Resources for teaching global issues, organized by topic and grade.


Ten World Holidays

BASANT (Vasanta)
: Boys in South Asia, particularly Pakistan, celebrate the end ofwinter and the arrival of spring with kite-fighting contests and a holiday tradition called Basant (meaning the "joys of spring"). Although the event has led to controversy, injuries, and even power failure in Pakistan, boys continue to fly kites. The winner is the boy who can keep his kite in the air the longest.  

Sources and more information:
Lahore's Kite Festival Kicks Off
Pilgrims Washing in the Ganges River 

Stories: Indian Festivals 

Pakistan's Basant Festival 


CHRISTMAS is the Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus. One tradition of the Christmas season is the lighting of candles on an Advent wreath, a wreath made of fir branches with four candles denoting the four Sundays of the Advent season.  However, since the early 20th century, Christmas has also been a secular family holiday, observed by Christians and non-Christians alike. A mythical figure named Santa Claus plays a pivotal role and is thought to deliver presents to boys and girls.
Sources and more information:
Brittanica: Christmas
Names for Santa Around the World 

Christmas Trees Around the World 


DIWALI is a New Year celebration and festival of lights that takes place across India between mid-October to mid-December.  The festival honors Lakshmi, India's goddess of prosperity, and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Although originally a Hindu celebration this five day festival is celebrated by both Hindus and non-Hindus today. Small clay saucers filled with oil and cotton wick are placed near houses and along roads at night. Lit saucers are also floated on the sacred Ganges River. Homes are cleaned and decorated, sweets are enjoyed, and fireworks shot into the sky. 

Sources and more information:

Diwali: India's Festival of Light 

Diwali Lights Festival (Video) 

Lesson Plan Diwali 

Diwali Doorway Lesson Plan

Diwali, Hindu Festival Of Lights 

Diwali's Lights and Colors 

EID AL-ADHA (Festival of Sacrifice) is one of two main Islamic celebrations. It falls on the tenth day of the lunar month of Zul-Hijja and marks Abraham's sacrifice. During Eid Al-Adha sheep, goats, and camels are offered to God (Allah), and the meat is distributed among family, friends, and the poor, who each get a third share. There is also time for prayer.

Sources and more information:

Holydays: Eiduladha

Debunking Muslim Myths    


HANUKKAH (Chanukkah) (also called the Festival of Lights), usually celebrated in December, marks the battle that took place more than 2,000 years ago between a small band of Jews (the Maccabbees) and the army of the Syrian king, Antiochus, who tried to force the Jews to give up their religion. The Jews won back their Holy Temple in Jerusalem and found that when they relit the Temple Menorah (oil lamp) the oil, thought to be enough to last for only one day, burned for eight days. It is for this reason that Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days, each night lighting an additional candle of the menorah.  

Sources and more information:


History of Hanukkah     

Celebrations of Light  


Lesson Plans

December Holidays Across Cultures
Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights  

Teaching Jewish Holidays   

Hanukkah in the Classroom

Celebrations Mini Unit
Comparing Hanukkah and Christmas  


KWANZAA is a non-religious event honoring African-American culture and community. Kwanzaa's seven days of celebration, which begin on December 26 and end on January 1, focus on seven principles or goals: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). The word Kwanzaa is derived from Swahili words meaning "first fruits of the harvest," and the holiday includes many elements of traditional African harvest celebrations. The most joyous and elaborate of Kwanzaa's gatherings takes place on December 31, the 6th day of the holiday period. On that night, a great feast (karamu) is held. Families and friends gather to eat, drink, sing, dance, and read stories and poems celebrating their cultural heritage.  

Sources and more information:
Habari Gani (What's the News)?

Celebrations of Light   


LAS POSADAS is a tradition in Mexico to celebrate the nine days of Christmas, December 16-24. During these nine days, children walk in a procession (posada) carrying clay figures of the biblical Mary, Joseph, and the donkey to symbolize the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem by Mary and Joseph. The children call on the houses of neighbors and friends and sing a song that asks for food and lodging for the weary Mary and Joseph. At each home they are told, "There is no room at the inn." At the last house of the evening there is a party and a pińata. On the last evening of the celebration, December 24, a manger, a stable, and shepherds are added to the procession of clay figures. Mary and Joseph are welcomed into the last home at which they stop, prayers are said, and a figurine representing the baby Jesus is placed in the manger. Religious services are followed by parties and celebrations.

Sources and more information:

Celebrations of Light
Celebrate La Posada 

Loi KrathongLOI KRATHONG FESTIVAL is a holiday celebrated each November in Thailand. "Loi" means "to float" and a "Krathong" is a lotus-shaped vessel made of banana leaves. The Krathong usually contains a candle, three joss-sticks, some flowers and coins. The festival starts on the November night with a full moon. People offer thanks to the Goddess of water by lightening the candles, making a wish, and placing the Krathongs in a nearby river. It is believed that the Krathongs carry away bad luck.

Sources and more information:
Loi Krathong Festival

Loi Krathong: Festival of Lights 



NOWRUZ is the traditional Iranian new year holiday celebrated in many countries of Central Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and elsewhere. Nowruz marks the first day of spring, the beginning of the Iranian year, and the beginning of the Bahá'í year. As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday, it is also a holy day for adherents of Sufism and the Bahá'í faith.

Sources and more information: 

Persian New Year 

Nowruz: History 

Nowruz: Background  


TET TRUNG THU, or mid-Autumn Moon Festival, is an ancient festival of Vietnam that revolves around children and the celebration of the harvest. It is traditionally held on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar Month and it is believed that this festival originally came about as a way for parents to make up for lost time with their children after harvest season. The festival traditionally was held under the full moon, which represents fullness and prosperity of life. Today, children parade in the streets carrying lanterns and take part in special dances. Moon cakes are also a traditional food for this celebration.

Sources and more information:
Harvest Festivals around the World
Harvest Festivals     

Teaching Holidays 



Center for Diversity Education, 

Learn about cultural and religious traditions that impact the world!

Festivals of Light 

Footsteps of Pilgrims: Historic Travels of Faith  

Good Fortune: The Lunar New Year 



Carolina Navigators, 

Request to have a navigator come speak to your students about customs and holidays in their country of origin or study.


World View to YOU!, 

Help your colleagues learn best practices for teaching about holidays through World View outreach presentations on Why Culture Matters, Service Learning, and more!

World View to YOU!



Celebrations of Light  

Celebrating Our Connections Through Water

Earth Calendar, Calendar of Holidays and Events  

Feasts and Festivals  

Holidays around the World  

Holidays around the World: A Festival of Lessons
True or False? A Quiz About Four December Celebrations  

Multi-Cultural Calendar  

The Spirit of the Season  

What are your holiday traditions?
Winter Holidays Crossword Puzzle  

Winter Celebrations
Winter Holidays Around the World Quiz 

World View Spring SeminarsMarchSeminars
Register Today!

March 27-28, 2012

Latin America and North Carolina

March 28-29, 2012
Complexity and Vibrancy of Africa

World View's spring seminars look at the historical, political, and culture issues impacting different regions of the world.  This spring we will "take" educators to Latin America and Africa.  Educators will enjoy talks by experts in the region being addressed and sessions that help integrate global issues into the classroom.

Seminars are for educators of all disciplines and administrators from K-12 and higher education. 

1.5 CEU or Professional Development Hours offered per seminar.

The Friday Center, UNC at Chapel Hill  


Cost (NC educator):
Registration is $175 per person per seminar or $325 for both seminars.  A team of 4 is $600 (SAVE $100!) per seminar.  A team is comprised of 4 or more individuals from a school, college, or district.  Only $150 for each additional team member per seminar.

For more information or to register today please call 919/962-9264 or visit

Travel Abroad with World View

Join World View for an unforgettable experience and gain knowledge to add global content to your teaching, make lasting global connections, and create a global learning environment for your students.  Applications now being accpeted for World View's Summer 2012 Study Visits to Senegal and Costa Rica.

For more information go to:

NGCSUSummer 2011 
NGCSU Language Academy

Subject:  Opportunities for Students and Teachers at the NGCSU Federal Service Foreign Language Academy in Summer 2012. *If you are interested in a job teaching with the FSLA, instructions for how to apply will be posted on NGCSU website in mid-January 2012.


What: Intensive language instruction in First-Year Arabic, Chinese, Russian, German, Korean or Second-Year French from highly qualified teachers. 


Date: Two three week cohort sessions 
First session:  10-29 June 2012 
Second session:  8-27 July 2012


Eligibility: A rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior 


Class Ratio: 16 students to one teacher; Two counselors (cadet mentors proficient in target language) will be assigned to each cohort language group 


Teacher Compensation:  More information available in January at  
Student Costs:  The cost of the program will be $1,800. This is the entire cost of the program and includes tuition, room, meals, books, and trips.  

For detailed information, please go to:  or contact John Wilson,

NCCSSSocial Studies Council Awards, Grants, and Scholarship
The NC Council for the Social Studies Awards Program seeks to recognize and honor achievements in Social Studies Education. Several awards are given at our Annual State Conference in February and others occur throughout the year.

NCCSS Student Teacher Scholarship 
The NCCSS offers a $1,000.00 scholarship to an undergraduate student in North Carolina who will be student teaching in social studies in 2012 or 2013.
Deadline: Dec 31, 2011.  


NCCSS Outstanding Social Studies Teacher of the Year    
The NCCSS  recognizes exemplary teaching in the field of social studies at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. 
  Deadline: Dec 31, 2011.

NCCSS Teacher Grants

The NCCSS  provides grants of up to $1,000 to help teachers make an even greater impact in their classroom, school district, and community through innovative social studies programs.
Dec 31, 2011.

Applications and nomination forms are posted on the NCCSS website (
Youth Leadership Program with 
Central Europe
(International Affairs Council of Raleigh)


This will be the International Affairs Council of Raleigh's second year to implement this wonderful program. European teens will travel to the U.S. July 8 - 30 and four Triangle-area students and one adult will travel to Central Europe August 4 - 19. High school students and adult participants from the Triangle are currently being recruited for this program. Applications for both students and adults are due January 23, 2012. See links below to download applications and a flier about the program!

Academic WorldQuest Competition
(International Affairs Council of Raleigh)
The International Affairs Council of Raleigh's annual Academic WorldQuest competition is open to local high school teams of four players each. A school may enroll more than one team. Academic WorldQuest features 100 questions about critical global issues.

The International Affairs Council of Raleigh's local competition is February 25, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., at William Peace University in Raleigh. The winning team will represent the council at the national Academic WorldQuest competition in Washington, DC, in April.

For more information, visit

CIUDDDestination: Denmark
(Center for International Understanding)


The University of North Carolina's Center for International Understanding is delighted to invite applications for the Center's June 16-23, 2012 Destination: Denmark program. This professional development program for K-12 educators will expose them to the cultural, historical, and sociopolitical forces of technological innovation in Denmark. In today's fast paced society teachers must be aware of upcoming and current technologies to prepare students for an increasing array of career options. With completion of the program participants should be able to incorporate this acquired knowledge into the classroom. The cost of the trip is approximately $3,750 and covers airfare, accommodations, meals, transportation, and additional program costs in Denmark.
Applications are due by January 16, 2012.


For more information and application, contact:

Meredith Henderson

Center for International Understanding

919-420-1360, ext. 217

NCTANNC Teaching Asia Network:
Resources for NC Teachers

North Carolina Teaching Asia Network (NCTAN) has been offering free seminars on East Asia since 2002 to North Carolina K-12 teachers. NCTAN is excited to work with North Carolina Center for the Advancement for Teaching (NCCAT) to offer a residential seminar "Closing the Global Achievement Gap: The United States and Asia" at Cullowhee in April, 2012.  Visit  for more information. 


NCTAN will also start simulcasting seminars, organized by Columbia University's East Asian Center and offer a webinar series by Five College Center East Asian Studies. Teachers who complete the requirements will be eligible to apply for a study tour to East Asia summer 2013.


For more information, go to: 

Do you have information to share?

Do you have information that you would like to share with other educators across the state? You are welcome to submit interesting global education programs that are going on in your schools, announcements about global education seminars, new resources that others might find interesting, etc. Please email Julie at with your "update-worthy" items!

Reader Mailbag

If you have comments about any of the information contained in the Global Update, send us an email! Perhaps your comments will appear here in this new section of the Global Update.  


World View at UNC-Chapel Hill provides information, resources, and announcements for educational purposes only. It does not represent an endorsement of organizations or point of view by World View or The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Join Our Mailing List!
This email was sent to by |  
World View | CB #8011, 208 N Columbia St | UNC at Chapel Hill | Chapel Hill | NC | 27599-8011