December Holidays Around the World for Preschoolers

december holidays around the world with kids

We know that December is taken up by all the Christmas festivities - lights, baking, parades, presents - but December is packed with holidays celebrated around the world, some religious, some secular. Our preschool in Raleigh is sharing five fun December holidays around the world.


Hanukkah ("Dedication" in Hebrew) is the Festival of Lights, commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem to the Jewish people and the rededication of the Holy Temple and celebrating the miracle of a single night's worth of lamp oil lasting eight nights. The holiday is thus celebrated for eight nights in which those who observe enjoy the following activities:

  • Lighting candles in the menorah,
  • Singing Hanukah songs
  • Enjoying foods such as latkes (potato cakes fried in oil) and sufganiyot (round doughnuts filled with strawberry jelly)
  • Spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top
  • Distributing Chanukkah gelt (traditionally gold coins, but today, relatives give money) or chocolate coins

In the United States, it's become traditional for parents to give children small gifts for each night of Hanukkah, or perhaps a larger gift on the eighth night, though it's fairly recent.

Check out Elmo's Little Dreidel or The Story of Hanukkah at your local library with your children to help them understand this lovely holiday!

Dongzhi Festival

The Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice Festival) is celebrated across China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam to mark the balance and harmony brought by the winter solstice on December 21. Families come together and enjoy traditional foods, including hot pot and tangyuan, or rice flour dumplings. In some parts of China, they will pay respect to their ancestors by burning incense, sweeping the tombs of their loved ones, or placing pictures out of their ancestors.

Share this holiday with your preschoolers by fixing tangyuan at home using this simple recipe!


Krampusnacht is a bit more reminiscent of Halloween than Christmas! This holiday is celebrated on December 5th across Germany, Austria, and eastern European countries. The legend is that Saint Nicholas visits children on the night of December 5th, and he is accompanied by Krampus, a horned monster. Well-behaved children receive small gifts of candy and dried fruits and misbehaving children are punished or carried off by Krampus.

Today, Krampusnacht is celebrated in festivals across eastern Europe with young men dressing as Krampus, sharing greeting cards and drinking fruit brandy, and getting into mischief.

Because there is scary imagery associated with Krampus and Krampusnacht, you may want to follow some of the lighter traditions. There are children's books available on Amazon to tell the story in a lighthearted way, and of course, you can make up little gifts of chocolates, nuts, and dried fruit as a gift from Saint Nicholas.

Yalda Night

Another Winter Solstice celebration, Yalda Night is observed across Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Tajikistan, and Turkey. As the longest, darkest night of the year, friends and extended family gather together to enjoy a meal, read traditional poems, and tell stories. Often, red foods are served, including pomegranates and watermelons to represent the red shades of dawn and the glow of life.

If you would like to observe Yalda night with your family, get ready to stay up late - traditionally families stay up past midnight, but preschoolers may not be able to stay up that late. Be sure to create a small spread of traditional foods, including nuts, dried fruits, watermelon, and pomegranate seeds, too!

Happy Holidays from Primary Beginnings

No matter what holidays you and your family celebrate, we hope they are safe and happy!

To learn more about our preschool and take a tour, call our North Hills Drive location at 919-785-0303 or our Spring Forest location at 919-790-6888, or fill out our convenient contact form to get started!