Fun Holiday Facts!

Fun Holiday Facts!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Another Fun Holiday!

For many people around the world, December brings quite a few reasons to celebrate!  There’s Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, St. Nicholas Day, the Solstice, New Year’s Eve, and more.  In schools, of course, December also usually means a week or two of vacation!  Teachers are trying to accomplish everything that needs doing before the long break, and kids are anxious for the break to arrive.  (Well, teachers are often a little anxious, too!)

Have a little fun this season with some year-round holiday facts, taken from The Big Book of Holidays and Cultural Celebrations (Shell education, 2014).  How many of these facts did you know?

Did You Know…pine-cone

  • That the Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, from a new moon to a full moon?
  • That George Washington’s true birthday changed by 11 days when the official calendar changed?
  • That Punxsutawney Phil has been around since 1886? His predecessors date back to ancient Roman times when a badger or hedgehog predicted whether a second winter would follow during a festival called Candlemas.
  • That in the 18th and 19th centuries, British children went door-to-door asking for treats on Valentine’s Day?
  • That wearing new clothes on Easter is considered lucky?
  • That April Fools’ Day may date back to the time when Charles IX adopted the Gregorian Calendar?
  • That Cinco de Mayo celebrates a day when a greatly outnumbered Mexican army won a battle against troops sent by Napoleon III?
  • That Decoration Day is the official name of Memorial Day?
  • That Independence Day was first celebrated in Philadelphia in 1777?
  • That the shofar, used during Rosh Hashanah, is made from a ram’s horn?
  • That Diwali means “row of lamps” in Sanskrit?
  • That the Pilgrims were going to cross the Atlantic on two ships, the Mayflower and the Speedwell? The Speedwell needed repairs twice. It could not make the trip to America.
  • That Hanukkah dates back to the second century C.?
  • That the Puritans did not like Christmas celebrations? They wanted celebrations banned when they came to America. If you celebrated or even relaxed on Christmas, you could be fined five schillings.
  • That mistletoe was thought to cure poison and ward off evil spirits? In Scandinavia, it was used as a symbol of peace. Soldiers who came across it would not fight that day.
  • That Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966? The name comes from matunda ya kwanza, which means “first fruits” in Swahili.
  • That more than half a million people squeeze into Times Square in New York City to watch a crystal ball drop at midnight to celebrate New Year’s Day? The first ball was dropped in 1907. It was made of wood and iron and weighed 700 pounds. The ball dropped today weighs almost six tons. More than one ton of confetti is dropped in Times Square as well.

Your Turn!

What’s your favorite holiday fun fact?  Share it with us here!

Check out Teacher Created Materials Today and Shell Education for the Best Holiday Deals.

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Author bio

Dona Herweck Rice

Dona Herweck Rice, Former Editor-in-Chief for TCM

Dona Herweck Rice, former editor-in-chief for Teacher Created Materials, currently serves as an educational consultant in the areas of writing, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for children. Dona has extensive teaching experience and has authored single titles for the education market, for grades Pre•K –12 across all content areas, including language arts, science, social studies, mathematics, and the creative arts, including many titles in the TIME For Kids Nonfiction Readers, Science Readers, Reader's Theater, and Early Childhood Themes lines.