Teachers, are you looking for something different to do with your students in December? Try marking one of these days with your class!
December 1: World AIDS Day
This is a day to discuss AIDS prevention, as well as the global response to HIV/AIDS. Topics vary from safer sex and harm reduction strategies, to the compassion for people who are touched by the AIDS epidemic. There are tons of resources online, including educational material on prevention and . Check out the UNAIDS web site, or the World AIDS Day pages from AVERT and the UK’s National AIDS Trust.
December 1: Pay It Forward Day
Although there is already a Pay It Forward Day in April and marked in 28 countries around the world, a popular Facebook group is promoting December 1st as a day to perform acts of kindness. It can’t hurt to begin the countdown to winter holidays on a positive note! This is an excellent time to focus on being helpful and kind, and on giving without expecting anything in return. The Pay It Forward model is one of creating a ripple in a pond. Or if you remember the 1970s shampoo commercial, you might relate better to the idea of doing something nice for two people, who each do something nice for two more people. And so on, and so on, and so on! Teach your students that they have the power to make the world a better place.
December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada
This day marks the murder of fourteen women in the engineering department of a Montreal university. The lone gunman called them “feminists” and killed them because he felt women were taking men’s places in society. The federal government created this day of remembrance to allow Canadians to reflect on violence targeted at women and girls. While it is a somber occasion, it can be used to address topics such as gender equality, and to promote respect. More resources are available from the Government of Canada.
December 6: St. Nicholas Day
In many countries this is the day when children rush to their stockings and look for a special treat. December 6 is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, sailors and fisherman, among others. This is a great opportunity to explore holiday traditions and foods from around the world, or to look at the evolution of the red suited figure we know so well in the western world today. Check out the St. Nicholas Center for more resources.
December 20-23: Winter Solstice
The word “solstice” comes to us from Latin, and is composed of sol, the sun a form of the verb sistere, “to stand still.” The name is a reference to the perception that the sun’s course in the sky appears to slow or stop around the summer and winter solstice points. The December solstice occurs when the sun is observed directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, usually around December 21st or 22nd. In the Northern Hemisphere, this marks winter solstice, the beginning of winter. Paradoxically, it also represents the turning point at which the days begin to lengthen and the nights to shorten. The winter solstice is a wonderful time to explore the relationship between astronomy and the seasons. It is also a great opportunity to talk about the historical significance of the many festivals of lights celebrated worldwide, including Christmas and Hanukkah. Some of these are described in overview at Wikipedia.
“Solstice.” Online Etymology Dictionary