Celebrate The Holidays With Natural And Eco-Friendly Traditions From Around The World

vegetarian food, eco-friendly holiday traditions, holiday traditions, parenting

Image © flickr user kthread

Vegetarian and nature-inspired food

For many Americans, Christmas meals means potroast or ham. Going veg (even once a week) is a great way to support the environment, so why not start for the holidays? You’ll be in good company: In Russia, the meatless Christmas Eve feast includes a specialty porridge that includes ingredients such as wheatberries, honey, and poppy seeds, for happiness and prosperity. Of course, the favorite food at Chanukah time is already vegetarian-latkes, also known as potato pancakes!

Nature can also find its way onto the table: during Kwanzaa a tableplace is set up and displayed with vegetables such as dried corn representing the number of children in the family and crops like plantains or bananas representing the rewards of hard work. In France, a popular (and beautiful) dessert is the buche de noel, a cake made to look like a tree trunk. Challenge yourself to make a vegan one and have little ones help decorate it!

giving back, green holiday traditions, eco-friendly holiday traditions

Image © flickr user niseag03

Giving back

In France, the pain calendau or Christmas loaf tradition includes cutting a type of sweet bread and giving part to a less fortunate person. In India, the holidays are a time of bakheesh or a charitable giving for people of several religions. It’s clear that giving back during the holidays is a worldwide trend, and it is a wonderful way to demonstrate to our children how important it is to give to others and the holidays extend beyond getting presents.

There are so many ways to give back during the holidays with your kids (even if you don’t choose to give to an environmental cause, per se)-from preparing or serving food at a soup kitchen, to baking healthy treats for a women’s shelter, to organizing a book or toy drive. Challenge your family to a “12 days of giving” challenge and think about fun ways to spread holiday cheer to others every day. You can keep it as simple as giving away any change you find in your pockets or under the couch or writing a special note to teachers or other special people in your family’s life!

green family, eco-friendly holiday traditions, natural holiday, holidays

Image © flickr user arfsb

Kindness to animals

Scandinavians seem to have a special holiday place in their hearts for animals: placing seed outside for the birds is a tradition in Denmark, and in Finland, grain, nuts, and seeds are tied together and put in the garden. According to tradition, Christmas dinner has to wait until the birds have had their meal! To get in on this holiday habit, have kids create an edible craft for non-human buddies.

For a while, animal shelters greatly reduced the amount of adoptions that they allowed during the holidays since so many dogs and cats were given too hastily as holiday gifts and then returned. While some shelters have changed the rules and now encourage adoptions during the holidays, what hasn’t changed is the need for food and blankets and other basics for these animals. Call a local shelter and make a holiday drop-off with the kids. They may even get the always-exciting opportunity to visit with some furry friends while they are good-doing.

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