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Celebrating holidays in early childhood programs can bring joy to children, staff and families and can strengthen relationships between programs and the families they serve, it can also be an unintentional way of excluding some families. One of NAEYC’s four anti-bias education goals is diversity which means encouraging children to see how they are the same and different from their peers. This includes helping children respect and appreciate people who are different from themselves. One way to begin this process might be to introduce books about different holidays celebrated around the world during these winter months.

Diwali is a festival of lights and one of the major festivals celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. The festival usually lasts five days and is celebrated during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika.

Lights for Gita by Rachna Gilmore, illustrated by Alice Priestley

Gita is a recent immigrant and she looks forward to celebrating Diwali in her new home. But disappointment mounts as it seems that nothing is going right and her celebration plans will be ruined. However, as her family prepares to light the Diwali lights, a power outage occurs. Gita’s home is the one shining in the darkness, leaving Gita to reflect on the meaning of the holiday and her new home.

Saint Lucia's Day is a Christian feast day observed on 13 December. The observance commemorates Lucia of Syracuse and is celebrated most widely in Scandinavia.

Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker, illustrated by Carina Stahlberg

The book tells the story of Santa Lucia through the eyes of three children in modern-day Sweden. It describes their giddy activities, brought to life in colorful, full-page illustrations, and also provides sheet music, recipes, and sewing patterns for the costumes traditionally worn by children on this day, when many Swedish people celebrate the legacy of Lucia and the coming of the light with coffee, saffron buns, ginger snaps, and wonderful singing.

Winter Solstice, also known as midwinter, occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. 

The Shortest Day: Celebrating Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Jesse Reisch

The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history.

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture that is held from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a communal feast called Karamu.

Together for Kwanzaa by Juwanda G Ford, illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger

Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa? A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.

Hanukkah is a Jewish festival observed for eight days and nights commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. It is also known as the Festival of Lights.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman 

A classic children book that features the prominent Jewish folk hero and trickster figure Hershel of Ostropol challenging and defeating through guile a series of goblins over the course of the eight nights of Hanukkah, culminating in a showdown with the King of the Goblins himself on the final night.

Las Posadas is celebrated in Mexico and Latin America between December 16 and December 24. In this tradition, the Bible story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay is re-enacted.

Nine days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico by Marie Hall Ets, illustrated by Aurora Labastida

This beautiful book won the 1960 Caldecott Medal. Ceci is so excited to choose a piñata for her first posadas celebration in Mexico. She choses the Star of Bethlehem but when it comes time to break it, she doesn’t want to! It is finally smashed by the other children and when it opens a lovely miracle happens as the sky fills with stars.

Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas and originated in the United Kingdom. 

What Does Santa Do On Boxing Day? by Becky Plenderleith and Allan Plenderleith 

What DOES Santa Do On Boxing Day? Does he put up his sore feet? Does he sleep off the mince pies he scoffed on Christmas Eve? Does he give Rudolph and his team a well-earned slap on the antlers? Or perhaps he packs up his sleigh in storage for another year?

Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are cycles of the moon.

Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin 

This book tells the tale of a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. Each family member lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it's time to celebrate. There will be fireworks and lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a great, long dragon parade at the end!