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Evergreens and Dreidels: American Holiday Customs

How did St. Nicholas, Christmas trees, gifts, vacation, carols, cookies, and a host of other traditions come to represent the season? The Saturnalia festivities of ancient Rome featured abundant and special foods, decorating with evergreens, singing, dancing, drinking, visiting, sacrifice, fortune telling, ceremony, and celebration. We will explore ways in which Roman customs were interpreted and converted in Europe and eventually adapted and blended by American religious and ethnic groups. This is not only the story of Christmas, but the evolution of Hanukkah in America.



Essential Questions:

How have Roman contributions influenced Western society?
How have diversity and tradition played a role in the lives of the people in the United States and Canada?
How widespread was/is the influence of Roman culture?
How do Roman contributions reflect the society that produced them?
How can Roman experience be used to assess the current political, economics, and cultural situation of the United States?
How did Christianity change the Roman Empire and the world?

History Standards:  8.1 A,B,C,D   8.2.6 A,B,C,D   8.2.9 A,B,C,D  8.2.12 A,B,C,D8.3.9 A,C   8.4.3 A,D   8.4.6 B,D   8.4.12 A,B,D  

Reading Standards: 1.15, A,G 1.2 A,F 1.3 A,F 1.6 A, B, D,E

“I learned a lot about how many different things came to be, and you taught us all these interesting facts that I never knew. Not only that, but when you have different people dress up and pass around your props, I get more into it and find your program more interesting. Whenever my classmates dress up, it makes me pay more attention and gives me a better visual on how things were back then.”
         Kaitlyn W.