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Holiday Traditions from Around the World at the San Mateo County History Museum

  • Address:
    2200 Broadway
    Redwood City, CA 94063
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Since the Gold Rush, immigrants came to the county from countries around the world. When they came, they brought with them customs from their homelands. The day’s craft activities explore some of the holiday traditions that people brought with them to the Peninsula.

Kids will be able to make their own versions of:

Crown. Sweden celebrates Saint Lucia Day on December 13. Saint Lucia was a young girl from Rome who wore a crown of candles while carrying food in the dark to hungry people.

Dreidel. A four-sided spinning top, a dreidel is played with during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

Hagoita. Hanetsuki is a traditional Japanese New Year’s game, similar to badminton but played without a net. The hagoita, or wooden panel, was traditionally decorated with pictures of kabuki actors. Today, hagoita can be decorated with portraits of celebrities from sports, politics and entertainment.

Kwanzaa Kinara. The kinara is the candle holder used in Kwanzaa celebrations in the United States. During the weeklong celebration of Kwanzaa, seven candles are placed in the kinara – three red on the left, three green on the right, and a single black candle in the center. A new candle is lit on the kinara each day.

Parol. In the Philippines, people make Christmas decorations called parols. A parol is a star lantern which can be carried in parades.

Rattle. Paper mache rattles are popular during Mexican New Year’s celebrations. The rattles are shaken to welcome the generous spirits of the New Year and to drive away the unhappy spirits of past years.

Tambourine. In Portugal, New Year carols are sung to wish their neighbors a Happy New Year. Sometimes the singers will play instruments such as the tambourine.