Love Creek Elementary fourth-graders celebrated holidays around the world Dec. 19 when they explored traditions of Italy, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico and China.
Students received passports with boarding passes for each country, and rotated throughout classrooms to discover a different country in each room. They learned about cultural traditions, feasts and decorations while listening to songs, playing games and eating regional food donated by local businesses.
In Bonnie Perrotta’s classroom, students discovered the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a southern Italy Christmas Eve tradition, and listened to a story from La Befana, a witch who brings gifts to good children, while also eating cookies from Touch of Italy.
Indian customs came alive in Jennifer Adams’ classroom, where students learned about Diwali, the Hindu celebration of lights. They created rangoli, an Indian art form in which patterns are created on the floor using colored rice, flour, colored sand or flower petals, while sampling rice dishes from Indigo restaurant.
Students studied Irish traditions in Katie Hill’s classroom, where they learned to say “Nollaig Shona Duit,” the traditional Gaelic greeting for “Merry Christmas.” Hill made mashed potatoes for the entire grade, and told students Irish families place wreaths of holly and ivy on their front doors to keep spirits away.
Dreidel, a traditional Hanukkah game played in Jewish homes worldwide, was popular in Annette Couch’s room, where students learned Israeli customs and feasted on challah bread from Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli.
In Karen Warner’s room, students ate salsa and chips donated by El Dorado and learned about Three Kings’ Day, a Mexican holiday that commemorates the three wise men, and Las Posadas, a celebration in which the Bible story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem is re-enacted.
Students enjoyed fortune cookies from China Wok and played games in Tina Windsor’s room while learning about Christmas decorations in China.
At the end of the day, students discussed similarities and differences in holiday celebrations abroad and in the United States, and discussed their own family traditions.