Celebrating Together: Diverse Traditions at Beech Street School

By Herbert Benton, corps member serving at Beech Street Elementary School

The winter holiday season is rapidly approaching, and families from around the world are gearing up for many different and unique celebrations. At Beech Street Elementary School, we are fortunate enough to serve students whose families hail from a multitude of various countries. Pack your bags, grab your passports, and join us as we venture around the world, and take a closer look at the different holiday celebrations that take place in the home countries of our Beech Street students.

First Stop: Puerto RicoPuerto Rico
In Puerto Rico, holiday traditions kick off with Parrandas. During this festival, which lasts for a period of six weeks, musicians and dancers travel from house to house singing songs, dancing special dances, and bringing joy to those they visit. The songs and dances themselves are called “Aguilnaldos,” and are derived from the rich oral traditions of Puerto Rico.

Second Stop: PakistanPakistan
Pakistan, the country of origin for some of our Beech Street students, is home to many practicing Muslims. Ramadan is an important month long festival for the Muslim faith, and although it does not take place during December this year, we wanted to highlight its traditions. During the month of Ramadan, families fast during the day, and wait until sundown to eat their meals. The month of Ramadan ends with a three day festival known as Eid-Ul-Fitr, during which friends and families gather together for feasts, and greet each other with the phrase “Eid Mubarak,” which means “Happiness to everyone.”

Third Stop: MexicoMexico
Families in Mexico begin their holiday celebrations on December 16th, when homes are adorned with evergreen trees, paper lanterns, and various vibrant flowers. Many Mexican families include a “Pesebre” or “El Nacimiento” in their traditions, which features figurines posed in a nativity scene. Every night during the December holidays, Las Posada takes place, which is a parade that symbolizes Mary and Joseph and their search for lodging. Mexican celebrations during December also feature parties or fiestas, during which children have a chance to play Pinata, and earn candy and other special treats.

Fourth Stop: NepalNepal
Diwali, or the Great Festival of Lights, is celebrated by people of the Hindu faith both in Nepal and around the world. Although this important holiday traditionally takes place during the end of October, we wanted to highlight its significance here. Diwali commemorates the triumph of good over evil, and also denotes a time of rebirth or renewal of life. During this festival, lights are placed throughout a home, while both homes and streets are decorated with flowers and special designs made of rice powder.

Thank you for joining us on our trip around the world! We hope that you enjoyed our stops in just a few of the home countries of some of our Beech Street students. Beech Street is a beautifully diverse school, with many countries represented in our hallways and classrooms, and we hope that this post has inspired you to explore the rich festivals and holidays that are celebrated by other individuals around the world.
From everyone at City Year New Hampshire, we would like to wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season.

Sources:
Puerto Rico:
http://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/countries/puertorico.html
Pakistan & Ramadan:
http://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/countries/ramadan.html
Mexico:
http://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/countries/mexico.html
Diwali & Nepal:
http://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2004/traditions/countries/diwali.html

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About CityYear NH

City Year is a nonprofit that unites young people of all backgrounds for a demanding year of full-time service. As tutors, mentors, and role models, these idealistic leaders make a difference in the lives of children, and transform schools and neighborhoods across the US and in South Africa. For more information on how to get involved please call the City Year New Hampshire Recruitment hotline at 603-218-5101.
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