Celebrating Festivals with Children

Freya Jaffke



Freya Jaffke is one of the master kindergarten teachers that I most respect and admire and learn from.  As with her other books, Celebrating Festivals with Children is a fount of wisdom carried on the warm winds of love for children.  As such, it is a gift and a must-read for anyone working with our very young.

Here she describes festival celebrations in relation to child development in the first seven years. She considers in detail the main festivals throughout the year—Easter, Pentecost, St. John’s, back-to-school, harvest, Michaelmas, lantern time, birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and carnival.

Drawing on many examples, she shows how we can celebrate festivals in a meaningful way with children, both at home and in kindergarten. Every festival is prefaced with a deeper contemplation for adults before considering preparations with children. This is followed by the actual organization of the festival—with games, craft activities and decorations, stories, songs, poems and the seasonal nature table.

Very highly recommended.

  1. My family didn’t have too many traditions, and the ones that we did have were more mainstream sorts of things, such as opening one present on Christmas Eve, hunting for Easter eggs, having birthday cake. All of these things are fun, and grand, but as a mom who wants to embrace the more spiritual and contemplative side of the main Christian holidays, Jaffke’s book is a wonder.

    Advent and Christmas get the most attention, with great ideas on how to build up the excitement with your child through the use of the nature table, advent calendars, moss gardens, St. Nicholas, and more. Easter, summer, Carnival and several other holidays you’ve probably never celebrated before also go under the spotlight. Throughout all of the year, the nature table can reflect the changing seasons with use of different colors and decorations, and Jaffke offers specifics on that. Although this book is pretty small (only about 150 pages), so many ideas are contained within that I imagine I could refer to it many times and still not have put each idea into practice (leaving me eternal room for improvement, I’m sure).