Celebrations Around the World; A Multicultural Handbook

Celebrations Around the World; A Multicultural Handbook by Carole S. Angell. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-55591-945-6 pap., $19.95 218 pp.

Celebrations is a look at over 300 international holidays and celebrations arranged by month. The book, which has an attractive 8 1/2 by 11 format, begins with an introduction aimed at classroom teachers. Though relatively brief, the intro does an excellent job of encouraging teachers to integrate the celebrations across the curriculum. The study of a particular holiday does not have to take place on the holiday itself, for instance, but can be incorporated into geography, language arts, science, environmental studies and even music classes. The introduction also deals with the thorny issue of how to handle religious holidays.
The first section of the book covers celebrations which have no fixed date or month, such as Ramadan. The rest of the book is divided into months, with each month including both fixed date and non fixed date holidays.

Each holiday or celebration is described and placed in some cultural context. The average length of these descriptions is perhaps 175 words, though some are much longer.
Making the book even more valuable is the inclusion of activity suggestions for many of the holidays. These activities range from craft ideas to mathematics, environmental studies, and community ideas. Comparisons are also made between celebrations which occur in different traditions and at different times of the year. Additional material included in appendices and indexes includes a collection of recipes, a music list, an index of holidays and one of
activities, a general bibliography, and a list of trade books related to holidays and celebrations. The latter includes picture books and collections of stories which would be of interest to storytellers.

It was fun, in reading the book, to learn facts not only about unfamiliar holidays, but also about familiar ones. For instance, did you know that Germans believed that the badger had the power to predict spring? The tradition switched to groundhogs because there were so few badgers
where the Germans settled in Pennsylvania.

A great find for teachers and group leaders, it would be nicely complemented by Caroline Parry's Let’s Celebrate (Kids Can Press, 1987).

Second Story Review, Vol 2, No 1 - Mar 1997
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