An Educators Classroom Guide to Americas Religious Beliefs and Practices

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Valentine, it is a time when romantic partners exchange gifts, send each other flirty cards or text messages and have romantic meals in the evening - typically involving flowers and small tokens of affection. Some go away for short breaks, spending the night in a hotel for some private time. For those who are not romantically attached, it is a chance to send a card to express their feelings towards their crush or crushes.

Part of the fun of receiving a card is to attempt to guess precisely who might have sent it. The tradition is believed to have begun in medieval England or France during the age of chivalry when we see the beginning of romanticism and romantic poetry.


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It may have links to more ancient pagan fertility festival, being just a few weeks before the beginning of spring, but it has been a main celebration of courting couples for hundreds of years. Celebration of the birthday of George Washington.

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Today, the Federal holiday is more commonly known as President's Day to honor all past presidents. Another moving Federal holiday, George Washington was born on February 22 and following the success of the American Revolution, was elected as the former colonies' first President, effectively creating the birth of the Union. It became a Federal Holiday in , some 90 years after his inauguration as the first President of the United States.

Either way, the Federal Holiday marks the contribution to the country of these two men and many others in making the USA the country that it is. Leading up to President's Day, schools will often focus on history lessons about the importance of the role of President as well as teaching about individual presidents - a great time to educate children of all ethnicities in the US about our history. Varies depending on the dates for Easter, but it is 40 days before Easter Sunday.

Please see details below on how Easter is calculated. Mardi Grascan fall any time between mid-February and early March. Lent is a time that Christians fast for 40 days through to Easter and attend a period of confessions. Of course, fewer people are observant today but even in secular US, some people think it is prudent to give up an indulgence for the period.

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The Mardi Gras we see in cities like New Orleans are direct assimilation of French and Italian carnival celebrations and are colorful and extravagant affairs. Parades are plentiful and the Caribbean culture has added something unique to set it apart from its traditional yet no less colorful or celebratory Catholic counterparts in Europe and the rest of the world.

The Saint's Day dedicated to St. Patrick - the Patron Saint of Ireland. Patrick's has been firmly adopted into American culture, largely thanks to the Irish immigrants who came over during the 19 th century. Patrick is credited with taking Christianity to Ireland in the 5 th century, though the Vatican did not make it a Saint's Day until the 17 th century. By then, it had become a symbol of Irish patriotism especially against the growing influence of England over Ireland following England's break with the Catholic Church.

Most cities have a Parade where people wear green, buildings are lit up in the colors of the Irish flag, there is singing and dancing and fireworks. It is as much as symbol of Irish American culture as it is of modern Irish culture. A long weekend signifying the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ - the spiritual head of all Christians. Easter Sunday is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Good Friday is the Friday that precedes Easter Sunday. It can fall any time between March 22 nd and April 20 th.

To observant Christians, Easter is more important than Christmas because it signifies the time that Jesus sacrificed himself for the sins of all humanity, died and was then resurrected.

An Educator's Classroom Guide to America's Religious Beliefs and Practices

Easter is at the end of Lent that began with Mardi Gras and marks a period of both celebration and remembrance. Non-Christians, mark Easter as a continuation of ancient fertility rites. The Easter Bunny and chocolate go hand in hand with this as a celebration of the rebirth of spring. Children often wake up on Easter Sunday morning to find baskets full of candy or toys. Easter Egg Hunts, sometimes they too are candy but sometimes they are decorated eggs that make it all part of the fun of the season.


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To most, Easter signifies the beginning of spring - days are getting longer and warmer. Orthodox variation : The Orthodox churches Russian, Greek, Polish uses the same formula to calculate the dates of Easter but use a different calendar so the dates with for adherents to these churches will always differ by about a week. The same is also true of Christmas. An eight-day festival of Judaism, celebrating the Passover - the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. Like Easter, any time between late March and late April, but as Judaism uses a different calendar, they will not always fall close together - though they do frequently.

One of the biggest festivals in the year for Jews all over the world, Passover is the start of the New Year. It coincides with the beginning of spring and falls close to Easter.

As there is a large Jewish population in the US, particularly in New York, you will often find public signs of Passover celebration. Families get together on the first night for the seder dinner during which wine is consumed while the story of the Exodus is recounted. They may exchange gifts of baskets containing food and wine, and special seder plates. Passover lasts for seven or eight days, depending on the sect of the celebrants and each day has its own special rituals tied into Jewish belief and biblical history. An 8-day long Jewish festival to mark the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem.

Starts on the 25 th day of Kislev. In the Gregorian calendar, it varies between the end of November and late December. Far from being merely "The Jewish Christmas", Hanukkah is an important festival in its own right. It celebrates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem which took place in the 2 nd century BC when The Holy Land was under the control of The Seleucid Empire one of the factions that formed out the dissolution of Alexander's Greek Empire ; the event of the Maccabean Revolt is mentioned in Book of Maccabees.

The celebration of Hanukkah began following the success of the rebellion but it never became a popular in public until the s. The eight-day period is signified by the lighting of nine candles on a special candelabra called a "menorah". Starting with the central candle, one candle is lit each night of the Hanukkah period.

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There is some debate amongst Jewish scholars about whether the miracle of the oil actually happened. The story goes that on the rededication of the temple, the olive oil used to light the candles lasted eight days. True or not, it is now the foundation of the lighting of the candles every year.

Here is a fun lesson plan on the Menorah and one on the History of Hannukkah! Anniversary of the birth of Buddha, though it also celebrates his enlightenment and death. Why do we mark it? The festival has been around since when the World Fellowship of Buddhists assembled for the first time - it had already been celebrated by different Buddhist groups all over the world for hundreds of years, but only then did it become officially recognized. It celebrates the birth, life, enlightenment and death of the founder of the religion - Gautama Buddha. It perhaps did not enter the public consciousness until when The United Nations opted to mark it officially in their offices around the world.

On the morning of the day, Buddhists assemble at their local temples or place of observance.

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Here, they chant or sing prayers to Buddha, to the Dharma the teachings of Buddha and to the Sangha Buddha's disciples in life who spread the word. Candles and incense sticks are spread around the place, typically about the feet of the teacher. Many Buddhists who are not vegetarian will give up meat for a couple of days; in countries where Buddhism is a major religion, abattoirs will close.

Other symbolic acts of freeing animals may also take place. A day remembering the victims of the Nazi Holocaust mostly Jews between the s and the fall of the regime in This day is the specific day set aside by Jews for Jews. The reason is that it marks two other occasions that are important to their culture and history of Jewish people. Within the specified range of dates of Holocaust Memorial also falls Israeli Independence Day and the anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising which saw Jews in the ghettos of Poland fight back against the Nazis.

It is partly to honor those killed by the Nazi Regime and partly to vow that it should never happen again. Celebration of the victory of the Mexicans over the French at Battle of Puebla It is a celebration of an unlikely victory of the Mexican army over French forces in Outnumbered and outgunned, thereby becoming one of history's most shocking battles, the Mexicans experienced a victory against all odds.