Santa Lucia holds a special place in our hearts. While Saint Lucy was from Italy, the Scandinavian countries have become the most widely-known for their traditions around honoring Saint Lucy, or Santa Lucia. Because of our connection to Sundborn, Sweden, and because of Santa Lucia family traditions for several of our staff members, Santa Lucia remains one of our favorite celebrations. Following tradition, the oldest girl and oldest boy in the school get to play the roles of Santa Lucia and Star Boy, handing out hot chocolate and Santa Lucia buns to their Sundborn classmates.
Christmas is widely celebrated in our area, and each family has their own take on Christmas stories and traditions. For this reason, this is actually one of the holidays we give the least explanation for; we don’t want to contradict what the child is hearing from their family. Around this time, we often will focus on Grace and Courtesy lessons around giving and receiving gifts or sitting politely at a meal, as these are situations that children are likely to encounter during this time of year. We also enjoy singing songs that fit the season, some more traditional (Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, etc) and some more focused on our loved ones (I Celebrate My Family, Magic Penny). While gifts are never expected, there is a time set aside during this celebration for children to present gifts to staff or the school if their families have chosen to do so.
Kwanza takes place during our winter break, running from December 26-January 1, so we will take time to talk about this holiday when we return after the new year. We talk with the children about how Kwanzaa came to be and what the core principles are that are honored and acknowledged during this holiday.
Our celebration of Chinese New Year at Sundborn was actually started because of a Chinese student who wanted to share a part of her culture with her school community. She taught us about the significance of the holiday, and we are so fortunate that she chose to share with us. While this student is college-aged now, we still fondly remember her and her contribution to our enrichment when we talk about Chinese New Year every year.
Valentine’s at Sundborn is great fun. Rather than everyone bringing a Valentine for everyone (with 50 children in attendance, we’d be looking at managing 2,500 Valentines!), each child, with their family, makes one special, lovely Valentine with their own name on it. The day of the celebration, all of the Valentines are placed into a large basket. One by one, children come up to the basket, put on a blindfold, and choose a Valentine from the basket. They have so much fun seeing whose Valentine they receive, and who receives theirs.