Kindergartners at Mary Woodward took the month of December to learn about the many traditions involving lights from around the world. “It actually started in early November with a lesson about Diwali, the Indian Festival of Light,” explained Mrs. Orchard, a kindergarten teacher at Mary Woodward. “I’ve always taught about the different light traditions, from around the world, in December. This year, I have a student whose parents are from India and celebrate Diwali. His mother came in and shared his family tradition with us.”
In December, there are many traditions and celebrations involving lights. “I think that there are so many in this month because a lot of the world has long, dark winter days. Lights are joyous and help to chase away the dark. The different traditions we learned about are really beautiful,” said Mrs. Orchard. Kindergartners learned about the luminaria tradition from Mexico (and now New Mexico, Arizona, and even parts of Texas) as well as the tradition of Las Posadas. A grandmother from California taught about these and even brought a piñata as part of her talk. Children gathered in a circle, with the classroom lights off, and passed around a real luminaria (with a battery operated candle).
Lily Herman, a student from Fowler Middle School came in to teach about Hanukkah and the lights of the menorah. Other celebrations of light that were taught included the lights on Christmas trees (originating from Germany), yule logs (for Winter Solstice), Rudolph
(his lit-up nose, an American tradition), a kinara for Kwanzaa (an African American tradition), and a crown of candles, in a wreath, for St. Lucia Day (from Sweden).
“We learned that this particular celebration is also celebrated in the Scandinavian countries. We have a family from Denmark, whose little girl is in our classroom. Her grandfather flew from Denmark and brought a special crown for Vigga to wear. Nicole, her mother, taught us about the St. Lucia tradition. She really went all-out! Each child was given a white garment and a red sash to wear. The boys wore “star boy” hats, and the girls wore paper wreaths on their heads. All of the kids held a battery operated candle. Part of the St. Lucia tradition is to have a procession, so we learned the English version of the St. Lucia Song and sang it while parading through our school!” As the procession, lead by Vigga as St. Lucia, entered each room, Mrs. Orchard turned off the classroom lights so that only the candle lights shined. “It was truly beautiful, and even a bit magical! Everybody was in awe, and were very quiet, as the procession passed in and out of the classrooms. The kindergartners did a fantastic job! They had to sing for such a long time as we continued through the school, and they did it!” When the kindergartners finally made it back to their classroom, some of them collapsed (happily) on the floor.