Socio-historical Foundations of Modern Holiday Celebrations: A Lesson Plan

Hanukkah: History & Traditions

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

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.

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. I found this article to be very informative about how teachers can approach the idea of teaching about holidays in the classroom. Everyone has their own traditions for the holidays and I personally think it is a great idea to incorporate those into the class. I have many family members and friends who are not from the United States, so they have many different traditions that are really fun to explore.I will be keeping these resources to use in my own classroom!

  2. Over winter break, my Facebook was flooded with pictures of kids celebrating “Christmas” parties at school. I was a substitute teacher on the day before winter break for an elementary school and watched as the “class Christmas party” took place and assisted room moms as needed. All that to say, it got me thinking about the cultural appropriateness of having a Christmas party in the classroom where Christmas may or may not be celebrated in everyone’s homes. Further than that, it got me thinking what I might do differently. The title of this article stuck out to me because of these thoughts I had been having regarding the appropriateness of Christmas celebrations and importance of teaching children about more than just Christmas being filled with gifts and fun and clarifying that Christmas is not the only holiday. This article uses the word “pluralism” as far as the freedoms we have in America to celebrate religious holidays in whatever way. It is important that students are made aware of and taught about not only the socio-historical foundations of various holiday celebrations but also that there is the spoken about pluralism within how you choose to celebrate Christmas. The article and lesson ideas touch on Hanukkah which I believe is a great starting point for launching a unit on the history and cultural applications of various holidays. Students should feel comfortable to be culturally expressive in their classrooms and all students should be equipped with a larger world view and I think teaching on holiday and religious traditions is a good place to start across all grade levels. This article was a great way to get the thinking process started on not only the importance of these things but also how to effectively and appropriately carry them out.

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