2014 Events Observed by the Diverse People of the United States
National Mentoring Month
Sponsored by the Harvard Mentoring Project, this observance encourages volunteer mentors to help young people from under-privileged backgrounds reach their full potential. Find out more about National Mentoring Month.
Opening of Ellis Island
In 1892, the first Ellis Island Immigration Station was officially opened in New York Harbor. By 1924, more than 25 million passengers and crew had entered the United States through the "Gateway to America." The Immigration Act of 1924 restricted immigration, marking the end of mass immigration to the United States. Visit the Ellis Island website to search passenger arrival records and learn more about the immigrant experience
Emancipation Proclamation Anniversary
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed this edict proclaiming that all slaves living within rebelling Confederate states "are, and henceforth shall be, free." Find out more at the National Archives.
Japanese New Year Celebration
Shogatsu is the celebration of the New Year - the most important holiday in Japan. Entrances are decorated with a Shimekezari. A Shimekazari is a twisted straw rope with fern leaves, an orange, and other items considered good omens. People send New Year's postcards to friends and relatives (to arrive on New Year's Day), decorate their entrances, wear ceremonial attire, visit shrines, and eat mochi (rice cakes). Family members gather in their hometown and spend the time together. People celebrate the New Year with sweet sake called Toso, a soup called Zoni, and Osechi-ryori during the holiday. Find out more at the Japan Guide website.
George Washington Carver Recognition Day
In commemoration of George Washington Carver’s life and work, Congress declared January 5 as George Washington Carver Recognition Day. Find out more at George Washington Carver biography.
Christmas Day (Orthodox)
Following the Julian calendar, Greek and Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on or around January 7.
World Religion Day
This day was established to foster interfaith understanding and harmony by emphasizing the commonalities underlying all religions. Read more at World Religion Day website.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Day of Service
Always celebrated on the third Monday in January, this federal holiday honors Reverend King's life and commitment to equality and unity. The Day of Service encourages citizens to follow King's words: "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve." Read more at the Martin Luther King, Jr. website. Volunteers of all ages work on projects in their communities to honor King’s dedication to community service. See also NEA's Classroom Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
First Native American Senator
On this day in 1907, Charles Curtis, of Kaw, Osage, and Pottawatomie ancestry, was sworn in as the U.S. senator from Kansas. From 1928-1933, he also served the nation as vice president with President Herbert Hoover.
Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year)
To prepare for this major holiday, people clean their homes, buy new shoes and clothing (especially in red), and get new haircuts. The biggest event is the New Year dinner, an elaborate meal that celebrates family ties. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by Chinese, Koreans, and Vietnamese, among others, all over the world with music, dance, costumes, and firecrackers. 2012 is the Year of the Dragon. Learn more at the Chinese New Year page.
No Name-Calling Week
Hundreds of schools across the country participate in No Name-Calling Week by engaging in educational activities aimed at ending name-calling and verbal bullying of all kinds. This week is aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with tools and inspiration to launch dialogues about ways to eliminate bullying. Learn more at the No Name-Calling Week website. See also NEA's Bully Free: It Starts With Me web page.
Black History Month
Begun in 1926 by Black scholar and historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month was originally celebrated as a weeklong event. In 1976, Congress expanded the observance to the entire month of February. Visit these sites for Black History resources:
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th president of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He is remembered for leading the Union through the Civil War and freeing Confederate slaves with the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and for delivering the Gettysburg Address. Learn more about Abraham Lincoln at the White House website.
Random Acts of Kindness Week
This week can be a springboard for action, a time to focus on goodness and act upon thoughts of generosity that arise spontaneously from the heart. For classroom ideas, go to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website and the Kids Activities website.
Frederick Douglass Day
On this day in 1895, the famed African-American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman, and reformer died of a heart attack in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C.
On the third Monday in February Americans remember the achievements of two of the nation's greatest presidents. Students across the country learn about the achievements and contributions of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays both were in February. Learn more about this Federal holiday at the Presidents’ Day page.
Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday") or Shrove Tuesday, is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
George Washington’s Birthday
On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. Read more about George Washington at the White House website.
February 22-April 15
Eastern Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Lent mark a period of fasting and penitence before Easter.During this period, members of the Eastern Orthodox and Greek Orthodox churches fast and do penance prior to Easter Sunday. Western Easter is April 8.
February 22-April 7
Western Christianity Lent
Lent is period of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days (Sundays are not included in the count) represents the time Jesus spent in the desert overcoming temptation by Satan. The period of Lent is preparation for the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, celebrated during Holy Week.
W.E.B. DuBois Birthday
American civil rights activist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born this day in 1868. He was the first African-American to hold a Doctorate.
Women's History Month
In the United States, March is Women's History Month and the celebration of the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. See NEA’s teaching resources, Women's History Month for the Classroom.
International Women's Day
International Women's Day honors working women everywhere, celebrating their economic, political, and social achievements. This day is also the anniversary of the 1857 garment and textile workers' strike in New York, one of the first organized actions by women anywhere. See International Women’s Day – Inspiring Change for NEA's statement on the 2014 event. Visit Women's Information Network for ways to participate in the celebration.
Publication of the First Black Newspaper in America
In 1827, Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm debuted Freedom's Journal, the first African-American-owned and operated newspaper published in the United States. All 103 issues have been digitized and are available at the Wisconsin Historical Society website.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
In the early 1980s, Congress resolved that the week of June 6-12, 1982, should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Week, in commitment to identifying and implementing solutions to child abuse. The following year, in 1983, April was proclaimed the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Autism Awareness Month
World Autism Awareness Day
Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with fundraising and awareness-raising events. See the World Autism Awareness Day website.
Passover or Pesach is an eight-day long celebration during which Jewish families traditionally commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The dates for 2012 are from sunset on April 6 through nightfall of April 14. The highlight of the Passover celebration is the ceremony of Seder performed on the first two evenings of Passover.
In the Christian faith, Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus's resurrection. Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week mark a period of spiritual preparation for Easter.
Passover or Pesach is an eight-day long celebration during which Jewish families traditionally commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The dates for 2012 are from sunset on April 6 through nightfall of April 14. The highlight of the Passover celebration is the ceremony of Seder performed on the first two evenings of Passover. In the Christian faith, Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus's resurrection. Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week mark a period of spiritual preparation for Easter.
Anniversary of First Man in Space
Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space on this date in 1961, when he made a one-hour, 48-minute voyage, orbiting Earth in a spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union.Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space on this date in 1961, when he made a one-hour, 48-minute voyage, orbiting Earth in a spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union.
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust.
Global Youth Service Day
Youth Service America publishes a set of posters, toolkits, and curricula guides to help you plan your Global Youth Service Day (or Semester of Service!) event. This year's theme is Youth Changing the World. Find out more at the Global Youth Service Day website.
Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day
Always the fourth Thursday in April, this program encourages parents to bring their kids to work with them and show them the wide range of jobs available to them. For more information, see the Daughters and Sons to Work website
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
A diverse group whose heritages represent more than 50 ethnic groups and 100 languages, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made enormous contributions to the civic, cultural, and economic fabric of our nation. Read more at these sites:
- Asians/Pacific Islanders (NEA)
- Library of Congress
- The Art of Asia
- Asia for Educators
- Notable Asian Pacific Americans
Jewish American Heritage Month
On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month, recognizing the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. Read more at these sites:
- Jewish American Heritage Month
- The Library of Congress
- Law Library of Congress: Research Guide
- American Jewish Historical Society
- National Register of Historic Places
Better Hearing and Speech Month
This annual event provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. Learn more at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website.
National Teacher Appreciation Week
This is the week to thank a teacher and take action to ensure public school educators are recognized, valued, and respected. Visit the National Teacher Day web page to learn more.
National Teacher Day
National Teacher Day is a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only. NEA and its affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week of May. In May of 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress that created a national day of teacher recognition on the Tuesday of the first full week of May. See National Teacher Day web page.
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a day for everyone to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Learn more at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration website.
Cinco de Mayo
The anniversary of the unlikely 1862 Mexican victory over the French army at the Battle of La Puebla is more widely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico, where it is considered a regional holiday.
Mother's Day honors mothers and motherhood. May 9
Completion of Transcontinental Railroad in 1869
Considered one of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century, this effort connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by rail for the first time. The prodigious labor was largely provided by army veterans, and Irish and Chinese immigrants. See the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco for more information.
National School Nurse Day
School nurses work to promote health and provide the best care possible to students and their families. Take time on this day to look at the difference school nurses make in our schools. See School Nurse Day and learn more about school nurses at the National Association of School Nurses website.
Anniversary of School Desegregation Ruling
On this date in 1954, racial segregation in public schools was unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment clause guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
Beginning at sunset on the day before (May 26), this Jewish festival celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites.
International Day for Biological Diversity
The United Nations proclaimed May 22 the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. To learn more, visit the Convention on Biological Diversity website.
Celebrated by Christians, Pentecost Sunday marks the end of the Easter season in the Christian calendar and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ.
This holiday commemorates American men and women who have died in military service.
World Environment Day
World Environment Day was started in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly. Its purpose is to stimulate worldwide awareness about environmental issues and their impact on humans. This year’s theme is “Green Economy: Does it include you?” See the United National Environment Programme website.
This day is dedicated to the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. For more information, visit the Library of Congress website.
Anniversary of the First Woman in Space
In June 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut, became the first woman to fly in space when she orbited Earth 48 times in the spacecraft Vostok 6. A crater on the Moon is named in her honor.
A day honoring fathers, Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada on the 3rd Sunday in June, since being made a national holiday in 1966. Celebrated around the world, but on different days throughout the year.
Anniversary of the First American Woman in Space
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the announcement in Texas in 1865 of the abolition of slavery - two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Independence Day or Fourth of July
Independence Day was first celebrated on July 8, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was read to the public. Congress declared the day a federal legal holiday in 1941. The holiday is celebrated with parades, fireworks, picnics, sporting events, and music, including the "Star-Spangled Banner" and several marches of John Philip Sousa.
July 21-August 19
During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. This is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God, and practice self-sacrifice.
Anniversary of the Signing of Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990 “to establish a clear and comprehensive prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability." It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and later amended with changes effective January 1, 2009.
Bon Festival (Feast of Lanterns)
The Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed spirits of one's ancestors has evolved into a family reunion holiday, during which people return to ancestral family places to visit and clean their ancestors' graves. Celebrated for over 500 years, the event lasts for three days. (In some regions of Japan, the Bon Festival is celebrated in mid-July.)
Feast of the Assumption
For Catholics, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorates the departure of Mary, the mother of Jesus, from this life, and the assumption of her body into heaven. It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin.
This Muslim feast day celebrates the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The 3-day festival is known as "Eid" or "Eid al-Fitr," which literally means "the feast of the breaking the fast."
Hawaii Admitted to Union
On this day in 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States of America. It is also the last state to be admitted to the union. Hawaii has the largest percentage of Asian Americans of any U.S. state.
Women's Equality Day
Introduced by Rep. Bella Abzug (former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, lawyer, writer, news commentator, and feminist) and established in 1971, this day commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, the Woman Suffrage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which in 1920 gave women in the United States full voting rights. Visit the National Women's History Museum for education resources.
Christa McAuliffe's Birthday
Teacher and NEA member Christa McAuliffe (1948–1986) was America’s first "ordinary citizen" in space. Along with six other crew members, she perished in 1986 on board the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Labor Day honors the American worker and acknowledges the value and dignity of work and its role in American life. Labor Day was first celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York, and continued to be celebrated until June 28, 1894, when Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday. Learn more at Labor Day Resources.
International Literacy Day
Celebrated since 1965, when it was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this event focuses on reading from a global perspective. Visit UNESCO and International Reading Association for information and activity ideas.
September 15-October 15
Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month is a national observance authorized by Public Law 100-402. The observation was initiated in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week but was expanded in 1988 to include the entire 31-day period. See NEA’s National Hispanic Heritage Month resources.
Mexican Independence Day
September 16 is Independence Day in Mexico and is considered a patriotic holiday. Each year, the president of Mexico rings the bells of the National Palace in Mexico City, celebrating the start in 1810 of Mexico's struggle for independence from Spain.
Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
The Jewish New Year, also known as the Days of Renewed Responsibility, begins at sunset on day one and ends at nightfall the next day. The event is marked by solemn religious observances.
Citizenship Day (or Constitution Day)
On this day in 1787, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention met to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. By presidential proclamation, the entire week is given to observing this important anniversary. Visit the National Constitution Center and the Constitution Day website for more information and teacher resources.
International Day of Peace
Established by United Nations resolution in 1982, this event is a global holiday when individuals, communities, nations, and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace. To inaugurate the day, the "Peace Bell" is rung at U.N. headquarters. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents, as a reminder of the human cost of war. For information, visit the International Day of Peace website.
School Desegregation Comes to Little Rock
On this day in 1957, nine teenagers became the first African-Americans to attend all-White Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. The ensuing events riveted the nation and focused a spotlight on racism. President Eisenhower intervened and sent federal troops to protect the students and ensure compliance with the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. For more information, go to Central High School National Historic Site. See PBS Newshour Transcript on 40th anniversary (in 1997)
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
The most solemn day of the Jewish year, and one of the most important, the Day of Atonement is typically spent at synagogue in fasting, reflection, and prayer. Celebration will begin on the sunset of September 25.
LGBT (was GLBT) History Month
LGBT History Month brings awareness to the problems and the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people. Here are some LGBT resources:
- A Report on the Status of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People in Education (2009)
- 6 Tips for Educators Dealing with Harassment of LGBT Students
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
National Bullying Prevention Month
Traditionally held the first week in October, the event has been expanded to include activities, education, and awareness building for the entire month. Check out NEA’s Bully Free: It Starts With Me web pages.
Italian American Heritage Month
Every year the U.S. president signs an executive order designating the month of October as National Italian American Heritage Month in recognition of the achievements and contributions made to American culture by persons of Italian heritage. See Milestones of the Italian American Experience.
Sukkot (Jewish Feast of Tabernacles)
Beginning at sunset on the first day, this seven-day festival celebrates the harvest and commemorates the Jews’ passage through the wilderness.
Gandhi's Birthday & International Day of Nonviolence
Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi is one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the twentieth century. Through nonviolent resistance, Gandhi helped free India from British rule. The Indian people called Gandhi “Mahatma,” meaning Great Soul.
Thurgood Marshall Sworn Into Supreme Court
In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became the first African American to sit on the highest court in the land. Opposing discrimination and the death penalty, he championed free speech and civil liberties.
Frank Robinson Signed as Major League Manager
In 1974, Robinson became the first African American to manage a major league baseball team when he was hired by the Cleveland Indians.
German American Day
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed this day German American Day, commemorating the 1683 arrival in America of 13 German families on board a sailing vessel.
Celebrated annually on the second Monday in October, this federal holiday honors all explorers and commemorates Columbus’ sighting of the New World in 1492. It is also a time to remember a group of people who discovered America before Columbus: the nomadic ancestors of modern Native Americans. See Columbus Day resources.
Multicultural Diversity Day
Celebrated on the third Monday in October, this day was adopted as a national event by NEA's 1993 Representative Assembly. See Multicultural Diversity Day for more information.
World Food Day
Since 1979, this worldwide event has sought to increase awareness, understanding, and informed year-round action to alleviate hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.
Mix It Up at Lunch Day
Mix It Up at Lunch Day is a national campaign that helps K-12 teachers develop inclusive school communities.
United Nations Day
In the spring of 1945, representatives of fifty nations gathered in San Francisco to put the final touches to a document of far-reaching consequences - the Charter of the United Nations. The UN Charter went into effect on October 24, 1945. Two years later the UN General Assembly adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution declaring October 24th United Nations Day. See the United Nations Resources for Educators.
This holiday is the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice, the most important feast of Islam. The three-day festival recalls Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to Allah. It concludes the Hajj - the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. It occurs approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan. This year, in North America, it starts on October 26.
Statue of Liberty Dedication
On this day in 1886, President Grover Cleveland dedicated the Statue of Liberty, officially titled "Liberty Enlightening the World." This universal symbol of freedom and democracy was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States.
National Organization for Women (NOW) Founded
Since its founding in 1966, NOW has maintained its goal: to take action to bring about equality for all women. Learn more at the NOW site.
Also known as All Hallows’ Eve—the evening before All Saints Day or All Hallows Day—this event has roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (SOW-an). In Gaelic culture, it is a celebration of the end of the harvest season and a time to remember loved ones who have died. Today, in the United States and some Western countries, it is customary to wear costumes and take part in revelry.
American Indian Heritage Month
November was officially recognized as National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush signed it into Public Law. See these sites for more information.
- Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month
- American Indian Heritage Resources
- Native American Heritage Month website
- National Museum of the American Indian - Classroom Lessons
- Celebrating American Indian Heritage Boosts Achievement
- Native American Book List
Dalip Singh Saund - First Asian American Elected to the U.S. Congress
After becoming a citizen in 1949, Saund became active in the Democratic Party in California. In 1956, he was the first Asian American to win a seat in the U.S. Congress. See more at Asian American Activism in History.
Veterans Day is an annual American holiday honoring military veterans. It is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed an Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In 1938, the United States Congress made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - to be celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Congress amended this act in 1954, replacing "Armistice" with "Veterans," and it has been known as Veterans Day since then. See more at Military.com.
Dedication of Vietnam Memorial
On this day in 1982, the national war memorial in Washington, D.C. was dedicated after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans. The memorial wall was designed by Chinese American Maya Lin, who was 21 years old at the time.
Known as the "Indian Festival of Lights”, this major Hindu holiday signifies the renewal of life, and the victory of good over evil. To celebrate, people light lamps and candles, set off fireworks, and wear new clothes.
American Education Week
NEA's American Education Week (AEW) spotlights the importance of providing every child in America with a quality public education from kindergarten through college, and the need for everyone to do his or her part in making public schools great. See American Education Week.
November 14-December 14
Muharram (Islamic New Year)
The month of Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic liturgical year. The Islamic year begins on the first day of Muharram, and is counted from the year of the Hegira (anno Hegirae), the year in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina (A.D. July 16, 622).
The first recorded observance of Thanksgiving in America was a religious occasion that did not include the feast now associated with the holiday. On December 4, 1619, a small group of English settlers arrived at Berkeley Plantation on the James River in Virginia. In accordance with their charter, the group observed this day by giving thanks to God. A typical Thanksgiving meal in the United States includes turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and rolls. (From the University of Kansas Medical Center Diversity Calendar.)
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
In 1999, the UN General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime - with the abuser usually someone known to her. Learn more by visiting the United Nations website.
November 25-December 10
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
Each year, new partners join the campaign to bring local, national, and global attention to the various forms of violence that women face and to look at the structures in place that permit gender-based violence to exist and persist.
Inclusive Schools Week
This annual event, sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN), celebrates the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive, quality education to students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socioeconomic status, cultural heritage, language preference, and other factors. It provides an important opportunity for educators, students, and parents to discuss what else needs to be done to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.
Human Rights Day
The anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a document establishing a common standard for human achievement for all peoples and nations, rooted in the values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect, and shared responsibility. Learn more about Human Rights Day. See also the United Nations Human Rights website.
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorates the Maccabees military victory over the Greek Syrians and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The festival is observed by the lighting of a special candelabrum, the Menorah, with one additional light lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. See Chanukah resources.
Christmas is an annual holiday celebrated on December 25 that commemorates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. In Christianity, Christmas marks the beginning of the larger season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days. Traditions include the sending of cards, decorating with poinsettias and a Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols, and giving gifts.
December 26-January 1
Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday based on the agricultural celebration of Africa called “the first fruits” celebrations, which celebrate the times of harvest, gathering, reverence, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals, and celebration of the good. Kwanzaa is celebrated annually December 26-January 1. Learn more about Kwanzaa.
New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve is December 31, the final day of the Gregorian year and the day before New Year's Day. In modern Western practice, New Year's Eve is celebrated with parties and social gatherings marking the passing of one year into the next, at midnight.