Holidays offer a chance to the teacher to introduce students to an element of the culture they are studying. Most of holiday activities in the fl classroom deal with Practices (remember Practices, Products, and Perspectives?) and to a lesser degree, products. Independence Day for each country (not always easy to decide: July 4, July 14, September 16 and near dates for Latin-America, the October Revolution for Russia???? I think not, but what date? How about China: 1949, the Communist take-over???? I think not, but how about Oct. 10, 1911, or some time B.C.?
In order to provide a good lesson, we simplify these events and level them so they are easy to present (to test?) and easy to digest for teenagers (assuming elementary and h.s. positions of my readers). Is that a good use of our time and effort? If we reenact the heroics of el Pipila without an understanding of the tangled relationships among the various classes and razas of colonial Mexico, i.e. the perspective of the people, what is the point?
I like to start with Perspectives, then move into the Practices and Products, thus giving meaning to the latter. In order to do so, I generally relate the Perspective to something the students are familiar with. So to understand situating cities on rivers (I just spent 10 minutes in Google trying to find the name for a river that empties into an ocean or access to one, i.e. the opposite of land-locked…… help anyone?) I might ask them if they’ve tubed the Colorado down by Yuma and noticed Yuma was once an seaport!!!! Of course, the Colorado water no longer empties into the Gulf of California in any amount, but it did once. That’s a dramatic example of how rivers can create a city and then deposit it in a third class status as it drops its alluvial mud.
I would enjoy hearing how others present the cultures of their languages.