New Year's Day is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar. Since most countries use the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Day is a truly global public holiday, often celebrated with fireworks at the stroke of midnight as the New Year starts.
Kwanzaa is a seven day festival which celebrates the African American culture and history. It is a time of community gathering and reflection. Kwanzaa begins on December 26th, the day after Christmas, and continues until New Years Day, January 1st.
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar. It is celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word "hanukkah" means “dedication.” The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For more than two thousand years, people have been observing Christmas Day with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, sharing meals with family and friends and waiting for Santa Claus to arrive.
December 6 is the Feast of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a bishop from the fourth century. He is the model for our modern-day Santa Claus, because Saint Nicholas's generosity was legendary. The night before Saint Nicholas Day, children place their shoes in a prominent location-- by a fireplace, or outside their bedroom door. The next morning--usually very early--the children find their shoes filled with little presents from the great saint.
In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition traces its origins to a 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The thanksgiving observance at Plymouth was prompted by a good harvest. Initially, the Plymouth colony did not have enough food to feed the colonists, but the Wampanoag Native Americans helped the settlers by providing seeds and teaching them to fish.
Here is a list of folklore books recommended for teachers. These collections contain a variety of folktales, from Native American Myths and Legends to Ghost stories. There are also Urban Legends and some really funny Tall Tales.
So, what is folklore, anyway? What exactly is the difference between a myth and a legend? A folktale and a tall tale? Where do you draw the line between a fable and a fairytale? What is the difference between a normal legend and an urban one? For those of you who have spent many a sleepless night pondering such mysteries, I have written up a quick folklore vocabulary list to help solve the murky intricacies of folklore and allow you to sleep at night.
A lesson plan on writing for grades 3-5 which introduces different types of story beginnings to students, allows students to write different beginnings, and engages students in the process of revision.
S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press and the editor of WorldFolklore.net and AmericanFolklore.net. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.
AmericanFolklore.net is the place to access folklore from all over the United States of America. Read your favorite folktales, myths, legends, ghost stories, and tall tales. Or visit our Folklore Q&A section to assist you with your research.