Winter Solstice Celebrations / Las Celebraciones del Solsticio de Invierno

Grade Levels
3rd - 8th
Formats Included
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This set has Winter Solstice Venn Diagram plus 16 vocabulary flashcards to compare and contrast Saturnalia and Yule with modern winter celebrations such Navidad.

The presentation mentioned in the description is not included. I encourage you to do your own research and presentation with the Information that will most appeal to your group of students.

This is an exctract from my blog explaining how I used this resource.

"My next step was creating a historical unit about pre-christian winter solstice celebrations in Europe, especifically Saturnalia and Yule. 

My former 4th graders, who are super informed and interested in science and mythology loved this unit (thank you Percy Jackson and so many other YA books) ⚡️  and it was especially meaningful to those students who celebrate secular Christmas. We wore wreaths and Norse helmets. We cheered with apple cider, listened to Roman music  and compared/contrasted the old traditions with the new ones. This was a history lesson, and it  included the etymology of the word Pagan because I wanted my students to reflect on the pejorative way of its origin (during Christianity) and see how the word  has been reclaimed (and capitalized) by different spiritual movements of European origin and the reconstructors of pre-Christian European religions to identify themselves proudly. Most of  them practice earth-based spirituality and mágico-religious traditions. 

This unit was quite a language acquisition success, and also a delightful critical thinking activity that I’m teaching it this year again with my current group of 4th graders who happen to be history lovers as well. 

This is how we do it! 

The goal is to develop an understanding of the multicultural,  and interfaith correlation of ancient winter solstice celebration with modern traditions by facilitating classroom discussions about it. 

  • This unit  begins with a presentation I created with simplified but key information about the solstice from a scientific perspective (longest night, the return of light, hemispheres etc), and  the ancient celebrations of Yule and Saturnalia.
  • The presentation contains information about the symbolism common in these ancient celebrations and modern ones (tree, candles, log, fruit cake, wreaths, hams, holly, mistletoe, etc) 
  • It includes strong visual support and cognates for understanding
  • After discussing the presentation, we then proceed to sit on a talking circle and compare and contrast using hula hoops (Venn Diagram) and place the key vocabulary  flashcards collaboratively inside each field.
  • The students then record all the information in their own Venn diagrams

One of the most entertaining discussions we had was around the figure of Santa. There were so many evident similarities between Thor, Saturn, The Holly King, Odin, but their favorite was definitely The Norse goat who delivers presents."

Total Pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
4 days
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