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Celebrate the Holidays with Cultures from Around the World

This event has already taken place.Tuesdays – Sundays, 10 am – 5 pm, through Dec. 31, 2023;

Come celebrate the holidays this December at the Childrens Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)! Explore how countries from around the world celebrate the holidays through tradition and the act of gift-giving. 

December 1 – 3, Chinese Culture: Ping An Ye (Peaceful Evening): Did you know that in Asia, specifically in China or Mandarin-speaking countries, giving apples on Christmas Eve is a common tradition? Since the pronunciation for the words “peace” and “apple” in Chinese are similar, apples have become associated with this holiday and are said to bring peace for the new year. Join us as we sculpt apples out of mixed media materials in honor of this wholesome custom!

Greek Culture: Pomegranate Sculptures : The pomegranate has been a symbol of fortune, fertility and prosperity in Greece and Greek mythology for thousands of years. During Christmas holidays, pomegranates are used as decorations or hung on the doors of houses. Join us, as we sculpt clay pomegranates to fill with seeds of joy and good fortune!

December 16 – 17, Italian Culture: La Befana Paper Stockings: Legend has it that Befana was an Italian woman who wanted to bring gifts to Baby Jesus but got lost on her way. Since then, she has been trying to find her way to Bethlehem each year, flying her broom from one house to another. Traditionally, children leave their socks out to be filled with goodies. Come out and create paper socks!

French Culture: Postcards from Père Noël: Letters from French children to Father Christmas always receive a response from Santa. Since 1962, France has had a law that stipulates any letter to Santa must be responded to in the form of a postcard. Join us as we get into the Christmas spirit and design our own postcards!

December 19 – 21, Norwegian Culture: Julekurver (Heart-Shaped Woven Basket): The heart shape has become essential for Norwegian decorating during Christmastime. Tree decoration is usually set aside to be done on December 23rd (also known as Lille Julaften or Little Christmas Eve). Join us as we create heart shaped baskets to adorn CMOM’s Christmas tree or to give to a loved one this holiday season!

Guatemalan Culture: Chinchines (Maracas): The sonajas or maracas take on a different name in Guatemala, they are called chinchines! Join us, as we create our own version in multiple colors with textile patterns!

December 22 – 24, Scottish Culture: Tartan Accessories: In Scottish tradition, tartan cloth accessories are woven in patterns of plaid. Tartan is often given as gifts and is synonymous with the symbol of clan kinship. Create an original, wearable tartan piece to give to a friend!

Ukrainian Culture: Vertep Christmas Stars: Did you know that December 25th is now a public holiday in western Ukraine? In celebration of the traditional Vertep, a portable puppet theatre which presents the nativity scene and other mystery plays, we will be designing a Christmas star! The Christmas star is held by children (star bearers) as a symbol of hope and joy!

December 29 – 30, Mexican Culture: Beeswax Candles: Many families in Mexico light candles and make wishes while eating 12 grapes at midnight for good luck. Join us as we make our own candles and enjoy grapes while sharing what we look forward to in the new year!

Latinx Culture: Lucky Luggage: Running around the room with an empty suitcase on New Year’s Eve is popular in Latin American countries, hoping to bring opportunities to travel in the coming year. Make a tiny luggage box, fill it with goals for the new year and bring out the wanderlust in you!

December 31, Filipino Culture: Polka Dot New Year’s Eve Hats: Wearing polka dots is thought to bring prosperity in the Philippines. Explore the endless fun of polka dots with a wearable dotted hat to ring in the new year!

*Programs subject to change