Lesson Planning for Diversity in Holiday Celebrations

Dr. David Childs, D.D. Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University

Originally posted December 19, 2019 (With some new updates).

With the holiday season upon us, we thought it would be fitting to post another article on the topic of various holiday traditions. Religious pluralism is one of the hallmarks of a democratic society. People are free to practice their religion (Or not) according to their own convictions and not be concerned about repercussions or punishment from the government and or be intimidated by mob rule. Although Christmas is a religious holiday in its origins, it has also come to evolve into many secular traditions. Education World, an online resource for teachers, administrators and school staff, has created a lesson plan for teachers that allow students to explore this very topic, examining the diversity of beliefs and cultural influences that has made Christmas what it is today. Check out this lesson plan entitled Lesson Plan Booster: Surprising Origins of Modern-Day Christmas Traditions. It also allows teachers and students to get a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural background that makes Christmas what it is today. A fun and very informative article for students and the general public, it explores the historical origins of Christmas trees, it examines the significance of the date December 25, Santa Claus and even discusses the historical origins of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer. One can also explore the various historic Christmas cultural traditions in a 2018 article we did entitled Christmas Traditions of the Past and Present: Teaching the History of Christmas.

Saint Nicholas gifting gold through the window to the father of the three daughters (Gerard David circa 1500 – 1510)

Along the lines of religious pluralism and the holiday season, Educator World has also created a lesson plan that teachers can use to teach about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The article is entitled Lesson: Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. The lesson includes ways to teach about the holiday across the curriculum. Here are other articles that shed more light on the holiday tradition of Hanukkah.

Other Resources
Hanukkah in the Classroom: Celebrate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah with these lesson plans, articles, and teaching ideas

Teaching About the Holidays in Public Schools

Sharing Hanukkah at School

Hanukkah – Teacher Resources

Who Should Teach About Hanukkah and What Should They Be Teaching?


  1. As the holidays are right around the corner, I thought that by reading this article I would get a better understanding of how to teach Holidays that promotes inclusivity. After reading, I feel like I got a better understanding of how to teach children about different holidays. As a teacher, you are always walking a fine line when talking about holidays. It is important to teach students secular traditions in the classroom to make sure that you are meeting the diversity that is within the classroom. By exploring the different holidays, students will get the chance to see how different the people are around us, and they get to see how many different holidays there are around this holiday season. By including all cultures and teaching about different holidays, the students get the chance to feel seen and heard because you incorporated their holiday into your lesson when teaching about the holidays. I believe that this resource is a great way to start if you are struggling on where/how to start your holiday teaching lesson.

  2. As the holidays are coming up, I thought that this would be an appropriate article to read. As a teacher, you want to know the best ways that you can incorporate and teach your students about different culture’s holidays, but sometimes that may be hard if you do not celebrate them yourself. This article is a great resource for teachers to have so they can teach their students about different holidays accurately. You will have so many different students that come from different backgrounds and cultures. You should get to know your students and what holidays they celebrate so that you can include their holiday in a lesson. This is a good way to make your student feel seen, but also educate other students about a different culture than their own. The resources in this article are a great way to start!

  3. I wanted to read the “Lesson Planning for Diversity in Holiday Celebrations” since I am ethnically Jewish. As someone who grew up celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah, I think it is important to showcase other variations of winter holidays. With that being said, there is a fine-line teachers walk when they teach about religious holidays in the classroom. What I liked about this article is that it gave resources that talked about how to teach Hanukkah in the classroom in an appropriate way.

    • Thank you for sharing a bit of your background. I agree that there is a fine line that we walk when we teach about religious holidays. I am grateful you found the article helpful. Keep up the good work.

  4. About 10-15 years ago, I still celebrated Christmas in my classroom and used the term “Merry Christmas”. This has changed over the past few years, and we now should be careful in order to not exclude or offend anybody. I do like the idea of teaching the different traditions, but we need to be aware that some might be a bit much for younger children to comprehend and to keep them age appropriate. I believe that a good practice is to include the parents/guardians, find out their traditions and then plan lessons that can include everybody.

  5. I believe teachers should always teach a variety of holidays. Regardless of whether all students fall under a single religion, school is a place for students to grow into strong adults and the best tool they can acquire is that of knowledge. Teaching students about the religions of their peers and of the world provides a great stepping stone for them to be successful in their futures.

  6. I think that if one holiday is going to be celebrated or talked about in a class, then all holidays should at least be talked about. Many schools now don’t allow you to have holiday decorations to show what you celebrate, but if all holidays are shown, I think that is a fair tradeoff. Allowing students to learn about different cultures will broaden their knowledge and allow them to possibly meet people who celebrate something different than theirs. It’s so important to incorporate as many cultures as possible in a class because a teacher may never know what holidays are celebrated.

  7. Using resources like Educator World is great when teaching diversity in the classroom. Exploring various religions in the classroom is a great way to expose children to diversity and also make them feel included. Exploring holidays can help students learn about different religions in a fun way. As a future educator I would want to touch on as many religions possible and also explain to students that some people do not believe in anything. It is important for students to learn that their peers, or even friends, can think and believe differently than them.

  8. After reading the article called Lesson Planning for Diversity in Holiday Celebrations, I learned how important it is for teachers to implement secular traditions in the classroom to meet diversity within the classroom. This will allow all students to feel respected in the classroom and a sense of belonging. Therefore, as a teacher, it is important to familiarize yourself with the cultural influence on holidays along with the historical background. I enjoyed this article because it provides teachers an online source to access lesson plans and be able to explore what makes Christmas what it is today.

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