As we bundle up for the Holiday season, families worldwide are getting ready to share meals, memories, and smiles—as they do every year. But what sets our holidays apart? At Strelitz Academy, an IB elementary school in Virginia Beach, our kindergarten students recognize that every family is unique by embracing the special traditions their families celebrate together.
What is a Family Tradition?
A family tradition isn’t just a strict, bullet-listed regime families abide by every year. It is an essential practice of their culture and individuality—tributed as fluidly or rigidly as they wish. It is a memorable date or event they hold near and dear to their hearts, intertwined with their lifestyle and identity. Traditions are one of the many ways we feel connected to our families, nurturing our love for each other as we grow.
Who We Are
Mrs. Baker’s kindergarten students participated in the “Who We Are” unit to identify their favorite family traditions, both new and passed down for generations. Creating their Family Tree Projects to learn about their ancestral timelines and history, students displayed what “tradition” means to them.
Rolling through some of our top holidays in calendar order, let’s hear what our IB early school kindergartners say about the traditions that shape their families. Maybe you’ll want to integrate one of theirs into your family, too!
Shabbat (alternatively “Sabbath” or “Shabbos”) is the core of Jewish life and has been since the dawn of their creation. The Talmud cites Shabbat as significant as all other commandments and is celebrated on the seventh day of the week, from Friday sunset to Saturday nightfall. Observant Jews refrain from driving, working, or using electronics and typically honor the weekly tradition in the synagogue or at home with family and friends.
On this important day of rest, Asher joins his family every Friday to enjoy a delicious meal, pray, and discuss the Torah. Friday is a special day for him because it’s the day everyone can come together as a family.
Meirav embodies her Judaic pride by lighting the Sabbath candles for her family, and is just one of the many Jewish holidays she looks forward to every year.
On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, splitting America from British rule and making every American a free citizen. That’s why the Fourth of July goes further than fireworks, family barbeques, and red, white, and blue t-shirts. It’s the day we highlight our patriotism as Americans and thank our history for bringing us to our families and friends today.
Eliza likes her Fourth to go off with a boom! Her tradition is to travel all the way to Indiana to marvel at fireworks with her grandma and grandpa. Just like her mother did when she was a child, this day ingrains a habitual bond with her family.
In the spirit of family, Thanksgiving is a pivotal time when families unite to count their blessings and cherish what they’re thankful for. Whether it’s prayers around the dinner table, cutting the turkey, watching the Macy’s Parade, or breaking the wishbone for good luck, Thanksgiving is a November tradition upheld by current and future Americans.
Rooted in rich American history, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express gratitude for family and friends that you may otherwise take for granted. Thomas gives thanks to his family by joining his grandparents for Thanksgiving dinner. He enjoys the fall harvest holiday because he can be surrounded by the people he loves.
It’s the eight-day Festival of Lights, or for some of our IB private school students, their favorite time of the year. Hanukkah (“Chanukah”), though mentioned as a minor Jewish holiday in the Torah, is anything but, landing on the 25th day of Kisler (between November and December). During the blustery winter, Jewish families exchange gifts and warmth by the light of the Menorah, eat tasty oil-based foods (latkes, sufganiyot, potato pancakes, etc.), and spin the dreidel. Fun fact: did you know that Hanukkah was even observed from space?
For Natan, this is the special day when he prepares the Menorah. He and Meirav found that they have a lot in common because they both love lighting the candles for their families!
What’s Your Family Tradition?
Though many of our favorite family traditions line up with holidays, inventing your own is an excellent way to turn an ordinary day into something spectacular. Like the Chinese worship the moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Spanish honor their passed loved ones with the Day of the Dead, and the Hindus illuminate the night on Diwali, humans are always finding reasons to create memories with their families. Who’s to say you can’t make your own?
Dani is a perfect example of this: she has created a family tradition during a date that is important to her, but is not a national holiday—the night before the first day of school. During this exciting night, she and her brother eat ice cream for dinner. The cherry on top is starting the school year at Strelitz the following day, the mouthwatering meal serving as a fresh start.
Being a Jewish school, there are some national holidays our children love to share with their families off-campus. For Haley, that’s Halloween— every October 31st, she loves to sit back and relax by the firepit with her family and friends, watching a spooky movie or two on the outdoor screen in her backyard. And when December rolls around, Tacari and Jay both slip on their Christmas pajamas and spend fun times with their loved ones, taking family photos all day long.
Welcoming Our Differences
As one of the best private elementary schools Virginia Beach, Strelitz International Academy is a prekindergarten IB World School, IB elementary school, and a Melting Pot of ethnicities and backgrounds. Through our child-prioritized programs, we are continually merging our culturally-rich diversity with our premier education, every day. By reading each of these kindergarteners’ love-adorned stories, we hope you hold your child extra tight during this winter season and continue raising smiles for years to come!
For more information on how your child can join our warm community, please call Carin Simon, Admissions Director, at 757.424.4327.