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Festivals of Light

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Amanda Silverman

on 18 April 2018

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Transcript of Festivals of Light

Teaching About Religion
The name comes from Sanskirt and means "row of lights"
Celebrates the victory of light over spiritual darkness and has several different stories that are said to be the origin, such as the goddess of wealth Lakshimi's escape from the underworld
Families celebrate by illuminating their homes with tiny lamps called dipas and spending time with family and friends to give thanks for what they have
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, it's a holy month dedicated to self-reflection and contemplation, or attuning oneself to an inward light
According to Muslim tradition this is the month the Holy Quran was given to Muhammad by Allah
Muslims over the age of 13 spend the daylight hours fasting and praying, and the day after Ramadan is over comes "the feast of breaking the fast" or
(Eid for short)
Decorative lanterns known as f
are used
Eight Day celebration which takes place on the 25th day of the Hebrew calendar's month of Kislev (late November to late December)
Commemorates the victory of a Jewish rebel army over the Seleucid Empire in 165 BCE after the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, attempted to outlaw the practicing of Judaism
Ancient rabbis later added to the holiday tradition the story of the miraculous oil, which they said a one day supply of had managed to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for eight days
Jewish families celebrate by lighting one candle of a menorah every night for eight nights, exchanging gifts, playing dreidel, eating oil-based foods such as latkes, and praying
Kwanzaa is a distinctly American holiday. Created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga as a 7 day holiday for African Americans to honor their African heritage
Many of the traditions, such as lighting a candle holder called a Kinara have their roots in the harvest festivals of many African countries
Las Posadas
Begins December 16th and lasts for nine days, until Christmas Eve
Commemorates the journey through the town of Bethlehem taken by the biblical Mary and Joseph as they searched for a place to stay the night
Each night processions of statues or actors journey through towns and neighborhoods making prearranged stops where they're denied lodging and celebration, until the final stop where they (and all accompanying townspeople) are invited for prayers and celebration
The final day culminates in midnight mass at church, and after mass is over bells are rung, fireworks are launched and large parades and dinners last far into the night
Christmas in Great Britain
Many American Christmas traditions have their roots in Britain
The use of holly for decoration, mistletoe, and the lighting of the Yule log all came from British rituals
Christmas in Britain lasts from Christmas Day until the "twelfth night", January 6th, when the three wise men were said to have made their visit to Bethlehem
Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas celebrations after his rise to power in the mid 1600's, but after his death they became prominent in England again
Festivals of Light
“It might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a
study of comparative religions and relationship to the advancement
of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of
study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said
here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when
presented objectively as part of a secular program of education,
may not be effected consistent with the first amendment.”

-Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark, Abington School District v.
Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Questions to ask yourself as you are presenting religion as a
unit of study:

Does this activity teach ABOUT religion or ADVOCATE for a particular religion?
Does this activity fit with the NCES?
Does this activity affirm and teach respect for all students in the classroom?
Are the students old enough for this information?

Moravian Lovefeast
One Lovefeast origin story says two families had been in a bitter argument that ended only after a fellow congregant expressed sadness over their fighting and convinced them to cease discussion and simply eat a meal together
On the Christmas Eve feast, after the feast is finished beeswax candles are lit and handed to everyone as the leave for the night, meant to represent the light of a soul shining in the darkness of the world
The Moravian faith traces its roots to the early 15th century in the Czech provinces of Moravia and Bohemia
Christmas in the Greek Orthodox Tradition
Begins on the evening before St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, and ends on January 6th with the Feast of the Epiphany.
Other important holidays are St. Basil's Day, January 1st, where Greeks eat vasilopita and remember the good man who hid money in bread for the poor, and the Blessing of the Waters on January 6th.
St. Lucia Day in Sweden
Takes place on December 13th and marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Sweden
Christmas/New Year in Russia
For most of the 20th century Christmas celebrations were banned in Russia after the Communist party came to power, but Christmas traditions were transferred to New Years as part of a secular holiday celebration
After the fall of Communism in Russia, many Orthodox Christians returned to their old customs, and some people celebrate both the Old New Year and the New New Year, looking at it from the perspective that more holidays are better than less
Advent in Germany
The season of Advent in the Christian faith begins 4 Sundays before Christmas and is marked in many homes and churches by the lighting of candles set within a wreath, one candle on each Sunday (three purple and one pink)
The Advent calendar is thought to have been invented by Johann Hinrich Wichern, head of an orphanage in Hamburg, Germany; his calendar version was a more intricate Advent wreath (with candles for each day between the Sunday candles)
German Christmas markets are world famous. Active for the entire Advent season, you can find everything from toys, gifts, sweets, decorations, and even your dinner!
A Lovefeast can occur any time of the year, but they're most common during the Christmas season
The feasts are simple services that offer things such as buns and heavily milked coffee
St. Lucia represents faith, hope, and a reason to believe in good things to come
Traditions include honoring parents, parades, the giving of specially baked treats such as Peparkakor and Lussekatt, or saffron buns
To celebrate this secular holiday New Year's trees were decorated and New Year's presents were given
Children are brought presents by Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden, figures from an old Russian folktale
Inti Raymi in Peru
Inti Raymi is a Winter Solstice festival in Cusco, Peru that's based on an ancient celebration which honored the Peruvian sun god and thanked him for giving life to the land
People celebrate with music, parades, food, and by reenacting an ancient story which takes place in the main plaza in the town of Cuzco and ends with a parade up into a mountain fortress above town
Festivities last over a week, but it culminates on June 24th, the South American Winter Solstice
This festival draws crowds of thousands from around the world every year
Eddie G, or Eddie Garcia is a comedian who has turned his love of his Mexican American cultural experience into a successful Youtube channel. At the urging of teachers across the United States, Eddie has turned several of his comedy videos into educational videos. This video combines footage of Las Posadas celebrations in his California neighborhood with his memories of the holiday when he was a kid.
Russian choral music has a rich tradition that goes back centuries. In the upcoming video, the Moscow Chamber Choir performs a Russian folk song (Kaliadka) during the Christmas season in 2006. Images in the video are from the medieval town of Suzdal, northeast of Moscow, which is known as the "Golden Dome of Russia" for its many Orthodox churches and monasteries.
This video looks at the origin of Kwanzaa and its evolution through the late twentieth century into current times.
This Hanukkah mashup is a fun look at the traditions of the Jewish holiday Chanukah (or Hanukkah!) performed by the quartet StandFour.
Jeremy Shuback is an animator and educator living the San Francisco Bay area of California. He narrates this introductory Hanukkah short film asking the question, "What is Hanukkah?"

This video, "What is Ramadan?" is a 2015 production of the online news source TestTube News. While providing basic outline of the principle traditions practiced by many Muslims worldwide during the month of Ramadan, the video may be more appropriate for older students.
In the next video, listen to the Islamic call to prayer, or Adhan ('Azan') as you watch the ritual called Tawaf. Tawaf is a symbolic act of circling the Kaaba (the black shrouded box marking the spot where the prophet Muhammad received from God the words of the Qu'ran). Tawaf is said to remind Muslims that life should revolve around the thoughtful contemplation of God.
Inti Raymi is an ancient ritual dating from the time of the Incan civilization. Known as the Festival of the Sun, it is celebrated in Cusco, Peru at the time of the winter solstice (June 24 in Peru). Inti Raymi is the second largest celebration in South America attended by thousands of locals and tourists alike. ​
Unlike Judaism and Islam, icons are heavily used in the Greek orthodox church. Some Christian churches see saints as intercessors, but in Judaism and Islam pictures of people in their house of worship would be considered a distraction.

The Moravian Church in Egg Harbor City, NJ created a fun and informative video describing the Moravian tradition of the Lovefeast. A lovefeast can be held at any time of the year; most popular are the commemoration date of the church's founding in August and Christmas Eve.
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets or Christkindlesmarkt which run from the beginning of Advent to Christmas Eve. One of the most famous and most traditional is the market in Nuremberg, which has been in existence since around 1530. Hear traditional Christmas music performed live, find unique gifts, taste traditional treats and candies then if you go in the evening, choose your dinner from the vast array of foods available there and lose yourself in the twinkling lights that create a magical Christmas atmosphere.

This video was filmed in the Seligenstadt and Aschaffenburg markets in 2013.
The religion of Hinduism has a belief that states everything is transitory. Transitory means not permanent or ever changing. It is the process of creation that brings joy to life, not an end result.

Rangoli are pictures traditionally drawn with colored rice powders on the ground or floor in front of the main entrance to Indian homes during holidays as a sort of 'welcome mat'. There are thousands of patterns ranging from very simple to quite complex. Some popular symbols incorporated into the rangoli are peacocks, the national bird of India, the lotus flower, a symbol of purity, the dipa or diya pot (candle), or the head of an elephant, which represents abundance.

This time lapse video was created by the Diwali Celebration Society during the arts and cultural festival in 2011.
The samovar (translated into English as self-boiler) has been used in for hundreds of years in Russia. Tea preparation and the act of sharing tea time together are important parts of Russian culture. This video reviews the history, demonstrates the use of the old style samovar before electric plug-ins and gives a peek inside a samovar restoration facility.
The Christmas season in Greece ends with the Blessing of the Waters on Epiphany, January 6. Festivities include the blessing of boats, dancing, music and plenty of food. Also on this day, young men throughout Greece dive into cold lakes, rivers and the sea attempting to retrieve a cross which has been blessed by a priest and thrown into the water. It is said that the young man who pulls the cross out of the water will have good luck during the upcoming year.
Having crackers (Not the kind you eat!) at Christmas dinner has been a tradition in England since the time of Queen Victoria in the mid 1800's. This video is a look inside Celebration Crackers, a factory in England that produces over 2 million crackers a year in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The sea is very important in Greek culture, so as the patron saint of sailors, St. Nicholas is highly revered, and his day is often celebrated with festivities aboard ships and boats.
Nutcrackers have been a popular item in Germany for hundreds of years. Originally they were designed for cracking open walnuts but most today are simply decorative. In the 1950's, American soldiers stationed in Germany discovered them being sold at the famous Christmas Markets and brought them home. Soon they were a festive part of the Christmas decorations in the United States.
Elements to include on a Kwanzaa table: a woven mat or Kente cloth, a kinara with the seven candles, fresh fruit, ears of corn and a unity cup.
Kwanzaa is not a replacement for Christmas; it begins on December 26 and ends the night of January 1
Kwanzaa is a time for gathering with family and friends, celebrating and rededicating oneself to living by the Seven Principles: unity, self-determination, working together, supporting each other, purpose, creativity, faith (especially faith in ourselves)
The Nobel Prizes, a tradition begun in 1901 by Dr. Alfred Nobel, a noted Swedish chemist, are traditionally awarded a few days before the national celebration of St. Lucia
Students learn how to play dreidel and discover what the Hebrew letters mean.
Chanukah presentation set up; ready for students!
Innovative Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson makes saffron buns for St. Lucia Day.
After bringing road show presenters to western North Carolina schools for over two decades, the UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education feels called to shift the format of our programming to fit the forward movement of the center. Continuing to be fueled by a desire to be more than just cultural enrichment, the CDE has created an online presentation and a more robust teacher guide to assist teachers in presenting our materials to their students.

The first step of this process was to develop 'compelling’ questions for our program. Profound questions, rich with opportunity for growth. There was a hope that asking these questions and seeking answers would allow teachers and students to use our stories, music, and artifacts to explore the human experience of peoples across the globe. In our rapidly changing demographic society, how could we assist in broadening the scope of knowledge and respect students have for their peers, their communities and themselves? So we asked,

“How does our story connect to the stories of other people both near and far away?”
"What can we learn about ourselves by being open to learning about others?"

Through the many conversations and observations of thousands of students during the past several years, we at the center have felt honored to witness and participate in a windfall of transformative learning. It remains our hope that teachers feel inspired to use our materials to continue to ask these questions, formulate questions of their own and guide their students to seek greater knowledge, tolerance and peace within their communities.

​The Festivals of Light road show highlights winter holidays where light or the Winter Solstice are a focal point. We have twelve holidays featured within the presentation. For each holiday, the prezi format offers a brief holiday description with a musical selection, several photos, food selections, and a video relating to the holiday itself or an interesting tradition.

Left and Right:
Students learning about the traditional Indian sari. Typically 5 to 9 yards in length, one end of the sari is tied around the waist of the wearer, then much of the length is folded in a pleated fashion then tucked into the waistband. The remaining cloth is worn over the shoulder.
Wreaths and calendars used to observe Advent on display for students alongside nutcrackers.
A South American official holds a ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the Inti Raymi festivities.
A 2003 Kwanzaa celebration with Dr. Maulana Karenga, the holiday's creator.
During Iftar, the nightly breaking of the fast during Ramadan, food vendors can be seen all over the streets selling delicious snacks and competing for customers.
A festive celebration of Christmas near the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, 2002
National Geographic takes a look at some of the traditions celebrated in the highly anticipated Indian holiday of Diwali.
The Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia can hold almost 2 million people within its walls. The Kaaba is a central focal point within the mosque.
The Christmas in Great Britain road show display ready to share with students.
One of many varieties of Christmas crackers.
Examples of some of the icons used within the Greek Orthodox Church.
Greek fishing boat decorated for the Christmas season. Blue and white lights symbolize a sense of national pride by echoing the colors of the Greek flag.
The Inti Raymi road show displays many facets of the holiday, including musical instruments, dolls in traditional dress, and an authentic chicha pot. ​
The modern Advent calendar with its windows was created by a Munich housewife for to allow her children to independently count the days until Christmas; in 1851, the first commercial Advent calendar was printed
Individual St. Lucia saffron buns ready and waiting for students.
Assisting a student as she dresses in the St. Lucia gown and crown of light.
Russian nesting dolls have long been given as a gift to children in Russia, but there was also a time when they were used as a way to teach children about family history. Today, the dolls come in thousands of different characters.
Most Mexican homes have a nativity scene as a Christmas decoration. They can range from very simple corn husk dolls to elaborate ceramic or glass figurines.
Children in Oaxaca, Mexico celebrate Las Posadas by breaking a Piñata.

223 Highsmith Student Union,
CPO 1200
One University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804



How do you tell if the moon is waxing (getting "bigger") or waning (getting "smaller")?

Try this as a classroom activity:
The teacher stands with their back to the class and says:

Hold up you right hand and make a backwards "C". The moon "grows" from a crescent shape to the full shape in two weeks to make a full moon. (make the shapes of the moon with your hand - 1/4 moon, 1/2 moon, full moon.

Then it begins to "diminish" from the other side.

Now, hold up your left hand and make a "C". In two weeks there is just the faint sliver of the waxing moon.

Again to full, 1/2, 1/4, and crescent waning moon.

Does the moon really get bigger and smaller? No, it is just that the earth is making a shadow on what is visible of the moon from the sun.

You can also tell time by the moon, too. The waxing crescent new moon is viewable in the night sky in early evening whereas the waning crescent moon comes up more like 3:00am.

Another way:
Several of our featured countries use a Lunar calendar, or a calendar based on the phases of the moon. Many classes study the phases of the moon during the school year. At Isaac Dickson Elementary in Asheville, NC, one 4th grade class helped their teacher create this beautiful and artistic display as part of their unit on the phases of the moon.
The Moravian Star is known throughout the world as a symbol of the Christmas season. Believed to have begun as a geometry project for students in a boarding school in the 1830's, now over 200,000 of these stars are produced every year by the original factory in Germany.
The town of Salem was founded in 1753 by the Moravian community. Known today as historic Old Salem, NC, the community is a living museum honoring the Moravians who founded it and the principles by which they lived their lives. Pictured here is Winkler Bakery, originally built in 1800, for Baker Thomas Butner. In 1807, Brother Christian Winkler bought the bakery and he and his family ran the now famous establishment until 1926. Winkler bakery is still producing their famous sugar cookies, Lovefeast buns, and many more delights for all who seek a taste of the past.
About Religion Facts

Date of origin: c. 520 BCE (Before Common Era, formerly referred to as BC, Before Christ)
Location of origin: Northeastern India
Central Figure: Buddha

Buddhism is divided into many traditions, just like other major world religions. Siddhartha Gautama became known as Lord Buddha (one who has attained enlightenment) after attaining enlightenment. Most traditions share a set of fundamental beliefs, which include reincarnation or rebirth and the Four Noble Truths, which explore the idea of human suffering.
Date of origin: 33 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD , Anno Domini)
Location of origin: Palestine
Central Figure: Jesus

Christianity encompasses a wide range of denominations and faith groups. The traditions and doctrines of the Christian church vary greatly within the denominations but they are, however, united in their belief in one God and that a central purpose of life is following in the steps of Jesus and his disciples.
Date of origin: 1500 BCE or earlier
Location of Origin: India
Central Figure: None

Hinduism emphasizes the oneness of Brahman by the worship of hundreds of divinities who are the different aspects of the one Brahman. Hinduism teaches the essence of every living thing is ATMAN, spirit or soul, which comes from Brahman. Because every living creature has a soul, all creation must be revered, including animals.
Date of origin: 622 CE
Location of origin: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Central Figure: Muhammad

Islam is a monotheistic religion. According to Muslim belief, Mohammed received the holy teaching of the Koran from the Archangel Galmiel. Mohammed lived during the 6th century in what is now Saudi Arabia. Many of the stories in the Koran share characters with the Torah, the holy book for Jewish people and the Christian Bible such as Moses, Abraham and Sarah.
Date of origin: c. 2500 BCE
Location of origin: Mesopotamia
Central Figure: Abraham

Judaism is a monotheistic religion. With no mandatory set of beliefs, the focus for Judaism is on relationships, between the Creator, mankind and the land of Israel. Many believe that the 13 Principles of Faith compiled by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon is the closest anyone has come to creating a summary of Jewish beliefs, yet those same would agree that actions are more important than beliefs.
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