Explore World Culture: 5 Family-Friendly Festivals

If you are hungry for ways to get your child interested in world cultures, you may want to consider trading museums for festivals.  Offering activities that span from dancing to races and that explore cultural characters from pirates to devils, these late-fall and early spring festivals are ideal for families looking for a cultural immersion.  In addition to traveling to exciting destinations, you will open the door to learning about other cultures, religions and traditions in a stimulating and memorable context.

Quema del Diablo (Burning of the Devil)
December 7, Antigua, Guatemala

If you missed Dia de los Muertos or Burning Man this year, you can still head to Guatemala, where residents burn an effigy of the devil every December 7.  Part of a massive winter cleaning effort to prepare for Christmas, Quema del Diablo is celebrated by burning a big pile of garbage with a devil on the top.  The festival is celebrated all over Guatemala, but the biggest festivals happen in Antigua, according to Lonely Planet.  You also will enjoy dancing, singing, fabulous food and fireworks during the festival.  If you have concerns about traveling to Guatemala, you can visit the U.S. Department of State’s Travel.State.Gov for international travel requirements and security updates.

The Honolulu Marathon, December 8, Hawaii

Photo by U.S. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons

The annual Honolulu Marathon is one of the largest in the world with 25,000 runners on average in attendance, according to the official website.  The event offers an ideal opportunity to teach your child about fitness in a place where they can also explore nature and the enchanting island culture.  Keep in mind that running is one of the few activities where you may not be able to keep your passport and your credit cards with you, and LifeLock advises runners and travelers alike to avoid the trouble of identity theft by having the proper protection in place.

St. Lucia Day, December 13, Sweden

Image by Frederick Magnusson via Wikimedia Commons

December 13 is one of the darkest and longest days of the year, so people in Sweden celebrate a festival for St. Lucia, the patron saint of light.  Scandinavian cultures celebrate by having a festival of lights, where young girls and boys don long white gowns and wreaths of candles and pointed hats.  St. Lucia Day is a combination of a Christmas and winter solstice celebration honoring the saint.  It’s a beautiful sight to see the children in long white gowns and candles and red tulips everywhere.  They share sweet buns and gifts and end the festival with a Christmas feast.

Chaumos, December 16-22, Kalasha Valleys, Pakistan

Photo by manalahmadkhan via Flickr

Surrounded by the predominantly Muslim culture of Pakistan, the Kalasha people resist Islam and cling to their heritage.  This is especially true during Chaumos, the biggest annual festival of the Kalasha people.  During the festival, participants visit, feast and dance as they celebrate the conclusion of the harvest.  The music is typically a cappella tunes for the demigod Balomain, and the food is goat-shaped bread.  Guests are invited to participate in every part of the festival including the goat slaughter.  If you are interested in attending, you can get a free registration form from the Chitral superintendent of police.

Holi Color Festival, March, India

Image by Flickr user Steven Gerner

Holi is a Hindu festival of art celebrated every spring around February or March.  Holi celebrated the coming of spring and the god Krishna.  The festival is often celebrated by a bonfire and throwing colored powder that creates a magnificent rainbow cloud.  This year, Holi officially lands on March 17, but the festival can last up to 40 days and span over numerous cities including Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Pushkar.  Depending on where you celebrate Holi in India, you could have a traditional festival experience or a modern party celebration.

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