Do You Explain the Importance of Holidays to Your Family?
Columbus Day and why we celebrate.
We are officially off and running with the new school year. Whew, that was tiring but it feels good now that everyone is transitioned into their new schedules. Now, looking ahead, I realize we have another holiday approaching and after that another and another. This is when the ball starts rolling and it doesn’t stop until we’re broke, tired and needing a workout.
Above all, it moves so fast that I sometimes feel like I’m missing the meaning of the holidays. I know the kids learn a lot in their school programs, thankfully, but really I feel like I should have more traditions at home too? Just as I’m writing this article, I think to myself, I have no idea how to explain Columbus Day to my kids right now. What do I say? Make me feel OK here, I’m not alone. Am I?
I will begin a series of “why we celebrate” articles over the next few months. To start, think about how you are explaining or celebrating holidays in your family and why it’s important.
Dr. David Lowenstein, a psychologist with over 25 years of clinical experience, has a lot to say about this topic. He believes:
“It’s up to you as a parent to instill the importance of the holidays in your own family. Whether you place emphasis on the religious significance of the holiday, spending time together or giving to charity, your children take cues from you.”
He also emphasizes family togetherness.
“Spending time together as a family will reinforce that it’s important to be with your loved ones. One way to do this is to get your kids involved in the holiday preparation process— have them wrap presents, clean the house for guests, bake cookies, plan activities. This will help them establish an important role for themselves in the family holiday preparations for years to come. Create your own family traditions that don’t focus on gift-giving. Plan special outings, make holiday cards together for nursing home residents, or pop popcorn and play board games.”
Dr. Lowenstein’s article, Holiday Cheer, emphasizes the real meaning of holidays and ways to instill tradition into our home. We all do it in our own ways, of course, but he also points out that “its never too late to develop new traditions and find ways to emphasize what the holidays are all about to your family.”
This brings us to the Columbus Day holiday on Oct. 12. In 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Oct. 12 as Columbus day, in honor of Christopher Columbus and the day he discovered America in 1492. Families celebrate Columbus Day by attending ceremonies, speeches and parades. Here are ways to develop your own traditions!
Why is Columbus Day a Holiday? (Talking points for young children)
- Columbus Day honors the Day Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492.
- His crew sailed on three ships the Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria.
- He was sent by the King & Queen of Spain to find a new route to Asia to trade spices.
- After sailing for 5 weeks and looking for a faster route to Asia he discovered North America, The New World.
Family Poems, Activities & Crafts. New traditions to share in together as a family.
COLUMBUS - A Poem (www.alphabet-soup.net)
When Columbus was a little boy,
He lived beside the sea.
He watched the ships sail in and out
And wished that he could be
A sailor, a sailor, to sail across the sea,
A sailor, a sailor, to skip before the breeze.
TRAVEL THE WORLD (www.brainpopjr.com)
Look through an atlas or world map together and find countries that pique your child’s interest. Where would he or she like to visit? Why? Encourage your child to look at obscure parts of the world or remote places. Then help your child research the country to find out more information. How would people travel to get to the country? What mode(s) of transportation would be necessary? Have your child draw up a travel poster for the country.
GO EXPLORING (www.brainpopjr.com)
Explain that when explorers visit an area they have never visited before, they make a map and record their observations. Together with your child, visit a new and unfamiliar place, such as a park or a different part of town. Map the area as you go exploring. What landmarks do you see? What path did you take? Were there people and cultures established in the places you visited- how did you respect them? Create a map and add things you see together. Your child may want to keep a log or record of things he or she sees along the way, such as plants and animals.
CREATE A NEW WORLD MAP (http://crafts.kaboose.com)
By: Amanda Formaro (see photo)
When Columbus came to the Americas, the realization of the "New World" opened up all sorts of possibilities to the Spanish. Make your own map of Columbus's voyages and pretend to be a world explorer!
What you'll need:
- Brown paper grocery bag
- Water color paints: blue, brown, green
- White craft paint
- Black marker
- Lighter (optional: for parents only!)
How to make it:
- Cut a rectangle from the side of the grocery bag that does not have seams.
- Use a pencil to draw simple land designs on the front of your bag (refer to photo or a world map for general idea).
- Paint the land on the right green and the land on the left brown.
- Paint the remaining areas (water) blue, leaving a small border around the land unpainted. Let paint dry.
- When dry, use a black marker to add an outline to the land masses.
- Write the words “New World” on the land mass in the upper left and “Spain” on the upper right land mass, on the left side of that piece of land. We wrote ours similar to calligraphy.
- Use the marker to draw small curved lines around the water to represent waves.
- Draw a dotted line from “Spain” to the lower left land mass.
- Draw three small ships above the dotted line.
- Add another coat of green and brown watercolor paint to the land masses, except where the words are. Going around the words will give it a more dimensional look when dry.
- Use a small paintbrush and white acrylic paint to paint the sails of the ships, an upper and lower line around the dotted voyage line and thin white curves above the wave curves.
- When white paint is dry, outline the ship sails with a black marker.
- This step is optional and should ONLY be done by a grown up or parent: Use a lighter to lightly burn the edges of the brown paper map to give it an aged look.
Be sure to have your kids share what they’ve learned in school about Columbus Day. They may teach you a thing or two! Enjoy the Holiday weekend and feel free to share your own holiday traditions below!