My kids probably won’t be devouring any chocolate easter eggs after the hunt this year. It’s not because they are lactose intolerant. It’s not because I’m the all-natural no sugars added mom (although I’d love to say that I am). And it’s not because I wish we’d return to the roots of the holiday rather than the creative bunny and his yellow duckling friends. It’s actually because we celebrate Passover. This is the first year we have lived in the United States with Christmas and Easter’s child-aimed marketing as far and wide as the eye can see (in the candy and toy aisles).
In Germany, there are of course the famous Christmas markets and the streets are decked out in red and gold tinsel. But gifts from St. Nick are not a given- you even get coal in your shoes from the neighbors sometimes!
This year for Christmas in Dallas, my children’s faces lit up every evening once the sun set and we were out to see all of the lights in the neighborhood. They asked me why we didn’t decorate our house with lights. And I’m sure up next they’ll wonder why we aren’t painting easter eggs or decorating our front yards with bunnies and baskets, which has me asking the question. . .
How do we teach our young children to appreciate the traditions and celebrations of other cultures and religions?
Mark Your Calendars!
Import the 2017-18 dates for Rosh Hashana, Diwali and Eid al-Ahda (just to name a few) and on that day, take the opportunity to explore new traditions of celebration with your children. Explain that someone in their PreK or Kindergarten may think that today is a special day — Why? What are they celebrating? Do they eat special foods? Do they have special dress or traditions at home? If you’re looking for new Easter events outside of the usual realm for your family, check out Dallas Moms Blog’s Egg-celent Egg Hunts and Easter Activities.
Attend Kid-Friendly Community Events with Friends!
Many places of worship offer activities for families and kids around the holidays (bounce houses and tasty traditional snacks usually included!). For best results, go with a friend or family who might also celebrate in that faith but don’t be afraid to explore alone! As a good place to start, visit the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Community Calendar.
Check Out That Food Aisle!
Have you noticed the abundance of Matzah ‘crackers’ in the central aisles of Tom Thumb around March/April? What IS gefilte fish really made of? And does chocolate-covered Matzah taste as good as it looks on the box? (Yes!)
Food is always a great conversation starter! Have a blind taste test and see what your kids and their friends like best! This can only lead to more great conversation which might require one of these books to introduce kids to the religions of the world.
Lead by Example… and when you’re just not sure, Google to the rescue!
There is not one right or wrong way to teach young children about another religion or tradition, but there certainly is a common denominator of teaching with kindness and respect.
“A lot depends on the age and temperament of each individual child,” says the Reverend Stuart Baskin, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tyler, Texas. “Parents, family friends, teachers, and religious leaders teach by their attitudes. If they talk in distrustful terms, children will learn the same attitudes.”
If you’re just not sure where to start, Dallas has some great community resources that you can turn to both online and in-person.
I’m proud my children understand that we celebrate different holidays than a majority of other children around them in Dallas. I’m also proud that they are interested and curious to learn about the many cultures that surround them while remaining rooted in the traditions of our family’s history. Each holiday is special in its own way to those who observe and celebrate.
And just in case you’re wondering why my kids are eating Matzah sandwiches instead of bread next week, here’s why Passover and Easter may have a bit more in common than you thought:
Pesach, or Passover is the holiday that tells the story of the Jews being freed from slavery in the land of Egypt, and having to survive in the desert for forty years to arrive in Israel, The Promised Land. In the opening of the Haggadah (or story of Passover), we are reminded of our obligation to look after the downtrodden and the needy and to seek to repair the world. We can all understand that whatever our faith, we carry a universal theme of human kindness that applies to all people.