Festivals and celebrations around the world – calendar
May I present you the ultimate list of different celebrations from all over the world. I made a list of common and unknown special days which are worth presenting to your ESL classroom.
Before you start reading, play this silly quiz and see how much do you know about festivals from around the world now.
Let’s spice up your teaching!
6th Jan – Epiphany
This idea is good for CLIL lesson with the focus on RE. For purpose of English lesson, you can use this website and let children explore this topic through fun facts. For more advanced learners use the BBC article and enjoy reading comprehension activity. Arts and crafts can be found here - Toilet paper rolls, wooden spoons, crepe paper, etc. will be required.
8th Jan – Elvis Presley’s Day (Birthday)
Use youtube and find some famous songs of this American king. If you don’t feel like go deeper into his topic, show children some commercials in which Elvis showed up. He is a pop culture icon.
Third Monday of January - Martin Luther King Jr. Day
As a person who played a crucial role in American history, this celebration is a least worth mentioning in older classes. King’s bio can be good authentic reading for more advanced students, while with younger ones introduce the topic of equality, love, respect and dreams. Martin Luther King is an amazing example if you want to tackle the issue of social science during your lesson. Click here for ideas.
The history of Australia can be shown using this video and shortly read through this text. For more info see this and that.
With less advanced students try some slideshows from Australia and talk about its flora and fauna.
Jan/Feb - Chinese New Year
Definitely show this festival to your students. I tried it with 3rd-grade using the reading from Oxford Explorer 3 and later I displayed a short video about its history and celebration today. Don’t be afraid of the amount of new vocabulary in this film. Play this video in parts and during each fragment give children small tasks, like the name all animals that you saw in the race.
Article on Chinese New Year will be available on the blog at the end of January.
Feb/March - Carnevale (Venice)
Feb/March - Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday
Carnival is celebrated also in Poland. We have different parties, discos, friends’ meetings and lots of fun. But two the most recognisable carnival parties are Venice’s carnival and Mardi Gras (worldwide). Italian masquerade clothes are iconic, so you can use photographs and describe the most wonderful outfits. Find some photos here.
More advanced students can read about it. For young learners try presenting the topic using the Bob and Bobby cartoon.
Mardi Gras differs a little. Watch this National Geographic document and explain to your children the importance of New Orleans’s party. With smaller children try some simple arts and crafts from here.
1st March – St. David’s Day
What do your students know about Wales? Maybe they are aware of its existence somewhere, maybe in Europe. Present them more info about this country by means of their patron St. David.
8th March – International Women’s Day
You can look at this celebration from two different perspectives. You can treat it like an excuse to cut out and make some spring flowers or (I do recommend this option!) talk about important famous women from all over the world. Think about women who made a difference in society, such as Malala Yousafzai or Maria Skłodowska-Curie. I recommend this youtube playlist of cartoons about important women in the world’s history.17th March – St. Patrick’s Day
This Irish patron is better known than St. David. However, you can present his bio using this simple video and later enjoy some Irish music while drawing leprechauns or looking for a pot of gold somewhere in your classroom. More St. Patrick’s Day songs can be found here.
Firstly, some info about it. “This popular Hindu spring festival is celebrated for two days. On the first day, a bonfire is lit at night and on the second day, people throw coloured powder and water at each other to welcome spring. They also prepare a special drink called thandai and invite family and friends for feasts and celebrations.”
Use photos to revise names of colours with very young learners and with teenagers try this reading comprehension.
March/April – Easter
Easter ideas were partly mentioned here.
Easter articles will be posted in the middle of April.
1st April – April Fools’ Day
We do have the same celebration in Poland. You can freely monkey around and no one should be mad at you. You can watch some funny videos or tell some jokes in English. However, you may also play some kind of silly games.
21st April – Queen’s Birthday (UK)
Did you know that Queen Elisabeth has her birthday twice? Why? Find out answers and a set of activities here.
That’s a very important day and you should definitely somehow relate to environmental problems during your English lesson. Watch a document or other film, introduce necessary vocabulary or make a project. This is absolutely up to you if you want to talk about recycling, saving energy or deforestation. Choose something and go with the flow!
1st May – Labour Dayand talk about different jobs that their parents do. Later, you can play vocab online game like this.
4th May – Star Wars Day
Ask what your students know about Star Wars (cartoons, movies, books). Play some silly games with lightsabres or watch short episodes on youtube.
9th May – Europe Day
Last Monday of May – Memorial Day (USA)
A bunch of facts about this celebration. Try to create with your class a perfect hero. Talk about personality and character traits of people who they admire.
1st June – Children’s Day (Poland)
Do something that your kids love! A lesson with their favourite cartoons and songs only? English in the playground? Games? Anything that makes your children happy.
4-5th June 2019 – Eid Al Fitr (the end of Ramadan)
July4th July – The Independence Day (USA)
Watch this cute cartoon and learn more about the importance of this day.
Watch some videos from Bondi Beach and make your own kites.
Go outside and fly your kites in the playground.
21st World Peace Day
Begin with the simple question: What is peace? Ask about students' opinions and have a class discussion about this issue. Later, show them a video with children from all over the world who talk about peace.
Yes! You are awesome and your children should spoil you today! Let them make you special greeting cards, poems using letters of your name, think about a song for you. Or you can ask volunteers to conduct the lesson and become teachers for that day.
14th Oct – Columbus Day
- Oct/Nov – Diwali
An easier version of reading about Diwali and a more challenging one.
There are many interesting films by National Geographic available on the Internet. Show your students a new culture and celebrate this amazing festival of lights.
With more advanced pupils, read something about Halloween’s tradition and history.
1st Nov – All Saint’s Day
All you need is here. Use pictures and talk about Polish traditions.
That’s a completely different way of honouring our dead family members. You can compare Mexican traditions with Polish ones. There are interesting arts and crafts here and if you have enough time you can display Pixar’s film ‘Coco’.
5th Nov – Bonfire Night
Read through my article again.
11th Nov – The Independence Day (Poland)
What is Independence? Use this video (in Polish) to explain the term. Make your pupils proud of their country and create a poster for foreign people about Poland. Teach them necessary vocab and enjoy the lesson.
Ideas for this holiday are described in my article.
6th Dec – St. Nicholas Day
24th Christmas Eve, 25th Christmas Day, 26th Boxing Day
Take your children for a Christmas trip around the world and learn about different ways of spending this time. More ideas are in my Christmas articles about songs, games and in my advent calendar 2018.
31st New Year’s Eve
Compare traditions that you know with others from all over the world’s ones. Or simply just enjoy firework displays from all over the world. I would definitely recommend Dubai’s fireworks while welcoming 2019.