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December: Festivals & Observances

December is a month filled with festive fun, but also some important international observances to remind us all of the importance of respecting one another and celebrating our differences. Not only do we have Hannukah and Christmas on the events list, but also the International Day for Human Rights and Disabled People, amongst those also celebrating volunteering, the abolition of slavery and the migrants of the world, all very topical and current issues today. 

This blog intends to list out the festivals of the month that we will be focusing on, but they all share common themes: mutual respect, the importance of recognising and upholding human dignity, the importance of family and friendships when things are (cold and) dark, which we will all be investigating over the course of the month. Some of the festivals will have dedicated resources lists attached to them - this is because they're standalone, or share similar language and themes to other festivals. For instance, World Mountain Day shares a similar vocabulary to Antarctica; World Human Rights Day shares similar activities and educational resources with The International Day for the Volunteer; for the Migrant; and for the Abolition of Slavery. In such instances, we've not duplicated content but expect our teachers to draw on a common thread to help articulate and educate our children as to import of these days.

December Educational Assets December Festival Overview December Festivals Language List December Festivals Character Cards

December Festival Songs

Dec - UTW - Festivals - Antarctica cover image1st December - Antarctica Day was established by the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces (Our Spaces) in 2010 on the same day that the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959. It was agreed that the continent would never be militarised and be a safe passage for scientific research, now made more potent by the pressing need of climate change. Room Leaders and Hatching Dragons staff with the correct access permissions can access educational content via the below links. These resources should be printed and made ready ahead of the day itself...Read more from our friends at Global Dimension and Reboot the future on how you can be involved!

International Day for the abolition of slavery2 December - International Day for the Abolition of Slavery - Whilst the transatlantic slave trade was outlawed in 1807 and slavery is prohibited internationally by Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are still an estimated 12.3 million people across the world in slavery today, forced to work for little or no pay. That's the message from UNHCR and at a time when Black Lives Matter and other campaign groups remind us of the roots of institutional racism, we'd do well to remember that slavery hasn't gone away and that we must do more to rid the world of this heinous industry.


Disability Day3 Dec - International Day for Persons with Disabilities - This day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It is incumbent upon all of us to understand the cultural, socio-economic and political hurdles that can present challenges for disabled peoples to change the way we think / do / act so that everyone has access to society. Find out more on the UN's website regarding the Millennium Development Goals, how we're failing them at present and what you can do to help.

Disabled Peoples Day


Disabled People's Display Pack Special Families Presentation Word Cards

Winter Paralympic Cards and Board Game

Paralympics Photo Pack Paralympic Games Presentation The Winter Paralympics presentation

Activities & more

World soil day

5 Dec - World Soil Day - First suggested by the International Union of Soil Scientists (IUSS) in 2002, this day is about acknowledging the overlooked, but essential role soil plays in our lives. For the IUSS, World Soil Day ‘celebrates the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system’, its vital contribution to ‘food, water and energy security’ and its role as a ‘mitigator of biodiversity loss and climate change’. Find out more on the UN's website
Dec - Festivals - International volunteer logo5 Dec - International Volunteer Day - A day to celebrate the contribution and achievements of volunteers across the world, providing an opportunity for volunteer organisations and individual volunteers to show their contributions to peace and development. Inaugurated by the UN in 1985, the day is celebrated by the United Nations Volunteers, NGO’s, and civil society organisations across the world. Find out more on the UN's website and join in the campaign here
Dec - UTW - Festivals - Hannukah graphic7-15 Dec - Hannukah - The word 'Hanukkah' translates as 're-dedication', and the festival commemorates the re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem when the Jews recaptured the city from the Syrian Greeks some 2,500 year ago. They found enough oil in the temple to keep the menorah (candle-holder or lampstand) lit for one day - but miraculously it stayed lit for eight days. So, during Hanukkah, on the first night one candle is lit, then on the second night two candles, and so on until all eight candles are lit. A separate 'servant' candle or Shamash, often situated above or below the others, is used to light them all.
Dec - Festivals - Human Rights Day10 Dec - Human Rights Day - All States and interested organisations were invited by the UN General Assembly in 1950 to observe the 10th of December as Human Rights Day. The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The UN’s aims are ‘to engage audiences the world over; to help promote understanding of how the Universal Declaration empowers us all; and to encourage further reflection on the ways that each of us can stand up for rights, every day’.
Dec - Festivals - Mountain Day11 Dec - International Mountain Day - According to the UN: ‘Mountains are home to 15% of the world´s population and host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity’. This makes mountain ecosystems incredibly important places to protect. See more on the UN's website here
Dec - Festival - Migrants Day18 December - International Migrants Day  - This day, inaugurated by the UN in 2000, marks the date on which the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers was adopted in 1990. Coordinated by the UN’s International Organization of Migration, the day focuses on highlighting the importance of the world’s 272 million migrants, their rights, their huge contributions to society and the challenges facing them. See more on the UN's website here
21-22 Winter Solstice / Dongzhi - The December winter solstice, or midwinter, is observed throughout the northern hemisphere as the shortest day. Celebrated since ancient times, different cultures and countries mark the day in different ways. In Europe ancient pagan traditions such as Yule have been partially absorbed into the Christian Christmas celebrations. However, there are still gatherings at ancient sites such as Stonehenge which accurately marks the rising of the solstice sun.

Woman giving a Christmas present to a boy24-25 December -Christmas Eve & Christmas Day - What was once a purely Christian festival, Christmas has become a worldwide celebration and forms a core part of the winter festive period. A celebration of the birth of Christ and the Nativity story, Christmas is a time of feasting, family, gifts and goodwill.

 31 December - New Years Eve - Held on the last day of the year New Years Eve is a celebration held worldwide to herald in the new year. It's a time to gather with friends and family, to reflect on the past year and set intentions for the new one. "