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Amanda Silverman

on 18 April 2018

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Pongal in India
Thanksgiving in America: Then and Now
Compelling questions
Sukkot in Israel
Cherokee Green Corn Festival
The hope is that asking several compelling questions and seeking answers will 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? A great place to start is by asking:

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?
It is 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 Seasons of Gratitude prezi includes seven holidays around the globe where the focus is on harvest time or feeling grateful. For each holiday, the prezi format offers a brief holiday description with a musical selection, several photos, one traditional holiday description, and a video relating to the holiday itself or an interesting tradition.
Teaching about Religion in Schools
“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?
Five major world religions
About Buddhism
Date of origin: c. 520 BCE (Before Common Era which has replaced 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.
About Christianity
Date of origin: 33 CE (Common Era which has replaced 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.
About Hinduism
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.
About Islam
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.
About Judaism
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.





Resources for Teaching Religion in the Classroom
The Phases of the Moon
The phases of the moon are part of the standard course of study for several grades in NC public schools. This wall hanging was created by a 4th grade class at Isaac Dickson Elementary in Asheville, NC.
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.

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:
The Green Corn Ceremony was one of the six major festivals/ceremonies for the Cherokee Nation. Traditionally lasting for four days and including all seven of the Cherokee clans, the Green Corn Ceremony took place in June or July, as the first new corn was ripening.

Green corn is simply fresh corn. It was special to have fresh corn; the rest of the year, corn was eaten many dried forms.

Today the Green Corn Ceremony is celebrated as a part of the Cherokee Fall Festival in the town of Cherokee, NC.
Corn (called 'selu' in Cherokee), beans and squash (or pumpkins). These are the three crops grown together that are known as the three sisters. The corn grows tall and acts as a trellis for the beans to climb. The squash have large prickly leaves that form a natural barrier around the base of the corn and beans, keeping animal 'snackers' away from the crops. All three of the crops offer something nutritional back to the soil (bean roots give off nitrogen).
The Three Sisters

Baskets were woven for whatever tasks needed to be completed. Gathering berries, carrying corn or beans, keeping herbs, bringing home fish from the rivers... The most often used materials for the Cherokee were rivercane, white oak, honeysuckle and hickory bark.
Basket Weaving
Stickball was once a game played by the Cherokee men as a way of settling arguments. There are not many rules other than win the game, and men often got hurt in games. Today, arguments are settled in more congenial ways and stickball is played at the Fall Festival in Cherokee, NC as a way of honoring tradition.
This video talks about the Green Corn Festival and its traditions. At the end, you see a short clip from the Fall Festival in Cherokee, NC.
The Center has always served hominy, a corn that has been dried, reconstituted, and cooked in water as the food sample for celebrating the Cherokee Green Corn Festival.

Hominy can be purchased from many local grocery stores in the canned vegetable section.
Pongal is one of the few Hindu holidays that follows the course of the sun calendar rather than the cycles of the moon. Coming soon after the Winter Solstice (January 14-17), Pongal celebrates the harvest of the rice. Mostly celebrated in the rural areas, such as Tamil Nadu, Pongal acknowledges the need for a bountiful harvest and celebrates that harvest with a 4-day festival honoring the Sun, the Rain, and the Cattle, without whom some people believe the rice would not grow.
Pongal is a four day holiday, celebrated in different parts of India in either January or Febraury.
Day one of Pongal, families clean their homes and decorate.
Day two is about the rice. Cooking the rice flavored with sugar cane, spices, and dried fruits until it literally boils over the top of the pot. The word Pongal means 'to boil'.
Day three is about honoring the cow, the animal without whom the rice harvest would not be as successful or easy.
Day four is about honoring relationships within the family. Particularly, the relationship between brothers and sisters.
Families clean their homes before the holiday begins. Decorating most often includes creating a rangoli or kolam out of ground rice powder. These drawings are made on the floor or ground in front of the main door of the house.
Pongal Decorating
Rice harvests would be much more difficult and less productive without the hard working cows. Day three of Pongal honors the cow and its importance to farming life in India by the cows being bathed and decorated.
The Cow
A piece of sugar cane is added to the rice and water along with turmeric, cardamom, and dried fruits. The rice cooks until the pot overflows, symbolizing more than enough of a harvest to share and feed the family. This cart is full of large pieces of sugarcane being taken to market.
Sweetening the Pongal
The video shows Pongal celebrations at SIWS, or South India's Welfare Society College.
Viewing Pongal Traditions
*The food sample for celebrating Pongal in India is candy coated fennel seeds. The fennel seeds are often served after dinner as a palate cleanser or a breath freshener.

* Coated fennel seeds can be purchased locally at Foreign Affairs Oriental Market on Tunnel Road.

*It might be fun to try making a rice dish with your class. There are many sweet and savory Pongal recipes available online.

Food to Serve
Many stereotypes and misconceptions exist about the first Thanksgiving meal between Pilgrims at Plymouth and the Wampanoag Tribe in 1621 and the symbolism Americans relate to Thanksgiving. The meal they shared was nothing like what we in the United States currently eat on the 4th Thursday of November. They would have eaten what the Wampanoag's taught the settlers to grow or catch: corn, beans, wild turkey, fish, nuts and berries.

While US presidents would periodically call for a national day of gratitude, it was not until 1863 and a declaration by Abraham Lincoln that the national holiday of Thanksgiving came into being. Before then, prominent magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, repeatedly advocated to Lincoln for an annual day of Thanksgiving to no avail.
17th Century Life
The Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA is a living museum where visitors can learn what life was like for Planters (Pilgrims) and the Wampanoag who lived in that area.
Follow the link and learn about the spelling of the word Plimoth, Plymouth, Plimouth and so much more!
Visitors leaning about the wetu, or bark covered dwelling of the Wampanoag
Wampanoag Life
17th century clothing for Wampanoag children
Visitors can watch a blacksmith work with 17th century tools.
Life in the Colony
A replica of a 17th century house in the town of Plimoth.
Presenting the facts about that first "Thanksgiving" meal can be a challenge. Myths and misconceptions about life for the pilgrims in the 1620s and their relationships with the indigenous peoples of North America abound. This video attempts to give a more accurate view of the Mayflower landing and what happened in 1620/1.
Hearing the Real Story...
The food the Center has served for Thanksgiving programs is what we call "America's first fastfood". Roasted salted pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds were easy to store and easy to carry with you to the fields or on a hunting trip. Plus, they are nutritious and filling.
We purchased pumpkin seeds at Trader Joe's in Asheville for smaller amounts or at Ingle's grocery in bulk.
Food to Serve
For Jewish people in Israel and around the world, the holiday of Sukkot is the time of expressing gratitude for the harvest. It begins with the full moon, or the 15th day of the month of Tishrei in the Jewish calendar. Tradition says Jewish families build a small temporary hut, or Sukkah, outside their home. Walled on 3 ½ sides, the roof is made of leafy materials and decorated inside and out with the harvested produce of the season. At least some meals are eaten in the Sukkah and some families also sleep there at least once during the seven-day holiday.

The historical basis of Sukkot is more than 3,000 years old and is taken from the biblical account of the temporary shelters in which the Hebrews lived during the 40 year exile in the desert of ancient Egypt and Jordan. Another origin springs from the harvest seasons of ancient time. Farmers needed the light of the full moon to continue the harvest of the last of the crops before rainy season. Lacking the time to return home each night, they built temporary sleeping huts before the harvesting began again at sunrise the next day.
Just as with any holiday, Jewish families in different places in the world have different ways of celebrating Sukkot.
Building a sukkah, gathering the four species, inviting family, friends and strangers to share meals with them, and attending services at temple are some of the traditions of celebrating Sukkot.

Sukkot falls on Tishri 15, following two of the most important holidays in the Jewish year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur is the day of atonement, one of the most solemn of holidays.

Sukkot has both historical and agricultural significance.
it is said to remember the 40 years the Jewish people were said to be wandering in the desert living in temporary dwellings and it is also a harvest festival.

Other holiday names you might hear are "Feast of the Tabernacles" or "Feast of the Ingathering".
Holiday Specifics
Another tradition is using the lulav and the etrog, a citrus fruit,in the offering of blessings and prayers during Sukkot. The lulav is a combination of a palm branch, two willow branches, and three myrtle branches. They are raised and shaken in six directions, north, south, east, west, up and down to symbolize that God is everywhere. The photo shows people shopping in an open air market for just the right elements for this ritual.
The Four Species
As you will learn in the video on the next slide, building of the Sukkah, or temporary dwelling, is an imporant part of the holiday preparations. A traditional sukkah, located on a rooftop in Jerusalem is pictured here.
The Sukkah
​In recent years, several architecture schools have challenged students to take the ancient design principles and create sukkahs of their own design. This video shows the top sukkah designs in the New York City competition several years ago.

Explore the links below to see the creative designs from two of the largest competitions in the United States.

www.Sukkahcity.com www.sukkahville.com
Learning about the Sukkah
Eating something sweet during Sukkot is a way of celebrating the sweetness of life. Traditionally, honey cake, a dense and very sweet spice cake was served for Sukkot as well as other Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah.

The local south Asheville bakery, Carolina Mountain Bakery baked honey cake for the Center for many years. After they closed their doors, we began to serve apples slices dipped into honey. It was a fresh and simple alternative.
Food to Serve
Cooperative farming, or working together and sharing the harvest, is important in many African villages.

Harvest is a time of hard work and then large celebration. Many families clean their houses and compost or give all old yams to their animals. They want to start fresh with the new yams. Cleaning your dwelling and cleaning your mental 'house' prepares you for a new season. The gathering is done together, village elders bless the harvest, parades go through the streets and everyone eats fresh yams!
Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria
In both Ghana and Nigeria, for people living in small villages, the harvesting of the yams is an important ritual. The village works together as a whole to produce enough to feed everyone.

Paying honor to the earth, blessing the harvest and then celebrating the bounty with dance, singing and feasting are traditions shared by many in this part of the world.
Inside the Traditions
The Chiwara are half antelope, half man, which many people believe came from the sky to teach man to farm. Their dance is done at the time of planting and at the time of harvesting. The dance includes one male and one female chiwara (who usually has a baby on her back). The dancers' faces are hidden so that the focus is on the chiwara.
Yams are eaten many ways. Mashed, sliced, baked, roasted, in stews and soups. This young man is mas and preparing them for a meal.
Mashing Yams
Many villages grow extra yams for selling in markets. The sellers usually agree on a yam price ahead of time and everyone charges the same.
To market, to market...
This video shows the traditional ceremony of a sampling of new yams being brought into the village of Adim and given to a village elder for inspection and approval.
Yam Festival in Adim, Nigeria
Many suggestions have come from students as to what we should serve as the food sample for Yam Festival. Mostly relating to what we think of as Thanksgiving sweet potato dishes.

The Center served fried plantain chips as they are another popular food in Western Africa. Often confused with the banana, a plantain has a thicker skin, needs to be cooked before eaten and has a variety of cooking methods ranging from baking the whole fruit, stewing them or slicing and frying chips.

Food to Serve
At least some form of the celebration of Dia de los Muertos has been celebrated in Mexico for over a thousand years. It was a month long festival that happened during the time of harvest.

The dates of the celebration were moved to coincide with the Roman Catholic holidays of All Saints and All Souls days (November 1 and 2) to appease the Spanish conquistadors, who had been very unsettled by the unfamiliar and "pagan" traditions of the holiday.
Day of the Dead in Mexico
Families begin building ofrendas and preparing for Day of the Dead celebrations well in advance of the holiday. An ofrenda, or altar can be as simple or fancy as you like.

It is a popular practice to decorate the graves of beloved family and spend time in the grave yard during the holiday. Eating dinner together, telling stories, dancing and listening to music are all ways of remembering those who have died with joy.

Dressing up as skeletons is not meant to be scary nor does it relate to Halloween. It is a way of expressing the belief that life goes on after death. Some people even choose to dress as a relative as a way of honoring them!
An ofrenda is a place of remembrance, usually created in a family's home or at the grave. Items to be placed on it might be photos of the deceased, candles, papel picado (paper flags), flowers (specifically marigolds) sugar skulls, pan de muerto, and incencse called copal.
Building an ofrenda
Having a decorated sugar skull on the ofrenda with the deceased person's name on the forehead is a way of remembering and honoring the person. The skull is a symbol of life. They are made of sugar because hundreds of years ago, when the tradition of molding decorations was introduced in Mexico, sugar was a material easily available to everyone.
Calaveras de azucar
Originally drawn by the cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada in 1910, the skeleton face who later came to be known as La Catrina was making a point about Mexicans who were forgetting their local traditions and embracing the European styles of dress and action. Posada's point was that death still found them.
La Catrina
This video created by the British Museum gives an overview of the holiday traditions and origins.
Experiencing Day of the Dead
Additional Video
Comedian Eddie G has created a video introducing Day of the Dead to school children, featuring a story about teenagers in a Mexican juvenile facility and a Day of the Dead project they did with the facility's art teacher.
Pan de muerto, bread of the dead, is a sweet bread shaped like a skull with two bread 'bones' across the top. It is only available the week or so before the holiday.

The Center buys pan de meurto from Los Nenes Bakery in West Asheville.
Food to Taste
Loy Krathong is held on the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar, this usually falls in November.

Loy” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a raft, about a hand span in diameter. During the night of the full moon, many people will float small rafts (Krathongs) on a river or other body of water, such as canals, lakes and seas. Some people even float a raft in a basin in their own yard. Thai people believe that floating a raft on the river is to honor and pay respect to the goddess of water. Also, floating a raft in the river is to apologize to the Goddess of the Water for the bad things we have done to the river during the past year. That is why Loy Krathong festival is held at the end of the year. Governmental offices, corporations and other organizations usually participate in honoring the holiday by creating big decorated rafts. There are competitions where prizes are awarded to the krathongs with regard to beauty and craftsmanship.
Loy Krathong in Thailand
Loy Krathong is said to be the second favorite holiday celebrated in Thailand. Coming in the 12th month of the lunar year, the rice has been planted and people are ready to give thanks for what they have and remember the importance water has in their country.

Among the most popular of Loy Krathong traditions, paying homage to the monks in the temples, building or buying krathongs (floats), the Nang Noppomas Beauty Pageant, in some areas, releasing of Khom Loy into the night sky, and in other areas, releasing floats into the waterways.
Selling krathongs at the markets is very popular. In an effort to be more environmentally conscious, they are made from all natural materials now, such as a slice of banana tree, banana leaves and fresh flowers.
There are many beliefs in Thailand as to why you send your krathong down river. Some people believe you do it to honor the goodess of water, or to honor Buddha, and some believe you do it as a way to let go of anger and start new. Some people put hair and nail clippings on their krathongs as a way of sending away bad traits or bad habits.
Sending your wishes and dreams down the river
Fruit and vegetable carving has been in a tradition in Thailand as far back as the 15th century. Elaborate 'crowns' were created and offered to the goddess of water on Loy Krathong as a way of paying respect to her and the important role that water plays in the lives of the people of Thailand.
The Art of Fruit Carving
The release of the sky lanterns on Loy Krathong is one of the most popular traditions in the city of Chiang Mai.
Experiencing Loy Krathong
Cha Yen is Thai iced tea. It is very similar to what we in the United States think of as the Indian drink chai, which is usually a black tea blended with spices such as cardamom, mixed with milk and served cold or warm. Many of us say 'chai tea' when discussing this drink or ordering it. But the word chai actually means 'tea', so when we say, chai tea, we are saying 'tea tea'!

The Center serves cold chai as the drink sample for celebrating Thai culture and Loy Krathong. You can find ready made chai at many stores or make your own mix from scratch. We have been buying a nice premade mix from Trader Joe's for roadshows for the past several years
Drink to Serve
Chinese Moon Festival
At one time in China’s history, the Mid-Autumn Festival, or the Moon Festival was the 2nd most celebrated holiday after the New Year (also called Spring Festival) celebration. Occurring on the full moon that falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, the Moon Festival has been celebrated for more than 3,000 years. It is a time of honoring the moon, and its connections to the seasons of life (and harvest) and spending time with family.
Creating an honor table outside under the moonlight is one of several Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival traditions.
Elements you might put on your table are, a plate of moon cakes, incense, a lantern, round fruits (to remind them of the shape of the full moon), and possibly candles. This photo is from a Chinese market and has tables of pomelo ready for your honor table.
The Honor Table
Mooncakes come in many flavors. Traditionally, red bean paste, lotus seed, or durian. Today, you can find chocolate, ice cream, green tea flavored mooncakes; just about any flavor you can imagine!
Lanterns have long been a part of the Moon Festival celebrations in China. Often shaped like the round full moon, red, the color of good luck in China, but quite often now, you will find lanterns in the shapes of animals, most notably, the rabbit. One of several of the Moon Festival stories of origin contains the legend of the jade Rabbit and a woman named Chung'er.
This video shows a Chinese baker making mooncakes by hand for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Can you make a mooncake?!
What other food could you possibly eat to celebration the Mid-Autumn or Chinese Moon Festival but a mooncake?!

Several of our Asheville Asian Markets sell mooncakes. They vary in size, fanciness, and price. The Center has purchased mooncakes from Kim's on Patton Ave and from Foreign Affairs Oriental Market on Tunnel Road.

Mooncakes are quite rich and a tiny slice will be plenty to taste. Cut in half and then make perpendicular slices.
Food to Taste
Food to Taste
Thank you for utilizing the prezi for Seasons of Gratitude!

For more information about these holidays and our other programming, please visit
Full transcript