With numerous cultures and religions represented in the
UK, should your PTA fundraising reflect this cultural
Christmas and Easter are probably two of your busiest times of
the year, but at many schools these festivals won't be celebrated
by all pupils, so why not hold a fundraiser based around a
different festival? While pupils may learn about other cultures in
class, dedicating a PTA fundraiser to a cultural event means pupils
can experience it in a hands-on way that the school may not
otherwise be able to accommodate, and whole families can come
together to learn and celebrate.
We've gathered together some examples of events that are
commemorated around the world and how these can be translated into
a school fundraising setting, but there is so much more to explore
beyond this. Do you know which cultures are represented at your
school? Invite parents and pupils to come forward to guide the PTA
in leading an event that celebrates diversity and creates a more
inclusive school community.
Remember: approaching a cultural event you'd like to develop as
a fundraiser should always be done sensitively and respectfully.
It's an opportunity to teach children and the school community
about what happens in other cultures. Make sure the event is a
learning experience and doesn't accidentally cause offence. Class
teachers can help, as can any members of your school community who
represent your chosen culture.
Diwali (25-29 October 2019)
The five-day 'festival of lights' is the biggest festival in
India and is celebrated by over one billion Hindus, Sikhs and
Jains. Although each religion celebrates different events and
legends, the overriding themes are the same - the triumph of good
over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. The
festival takes place in October or November, depending on the cycle
of the moon, and each day is dedicated to a different celebration,
with the main celebrations traditionally held on the third day,
which this year falls on 27 October.
Event idea: Diwali fair
Incorporating Diwali into an event is a fantastic opportunity to
celebrate Indian culture. Decorate your venue with bright colours
and encourage guests to wear colourful, Indian-inspired outfits.
Have performances of traditional dance and music. Diwali is the
most popular time of year for shopping in India, so get pupils
together beforehand to make handicrafts to be sold at the event.
These can include diyas, which are small clay lamps used as decor
during Diwali. Invite external craftspeople and speakers who can
teach attendees about Diwali, including how the different Hindu
Gods link to the celebrations, how to put on a sari and about
traditional pastimes such as henna design and yoga. For
refreshments, desserts are popular during Diwali and include
deep-fried dumplings, rice pudding and fudge-like sweets. Create a
craft table where children can create a rangoli - a decorative
pattern traditionally made with colourful rice flour. For a more
permanent souvenir, invite them to make patterns with crayons on
paper or using Hama beads. If you want to end the evening with a
bang, Diwali is usually commemorated with firework displays.
Chinese New Year (25 January 2020)
Chinese New Year, or 'The Spring Festival', celebrates the
beginning of the Lunar New Year, meaning it can fall any time
between 21 January and 20 February. Each year is named after one of
the 12 Chinese zodiac animals - rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon,
snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Next year will be
the year of the rat.
Event idea: Lantern parade
The celebrations culminate in a lantern parade, which can be the
basis of your event. The lanterns, plus celebratory clothing and
other decorations, are usually red, representing good luck. Pupils
can make lanterns in class, as well as other crafts inspired by the
zodiac animals. You could also incorporate dragon dancers, who
perform while holding poles that support a long model dragon, or a
lion dance, performed by two people inside an elaborate costume.
Add music with a performance of Chinese drumming. Alongside the
parade, have craft stalls where children can decorate lanterns,
drums and paper cut-outs.
Foods eaten to celebrate the Chinese New Year include spring
rolls, noodle soup, dumplings, rice-based desserts and mandarins.
Each type of food represents something positive - for example,
wealth, prosperity and happiness.
Chinese lanterns often have riddles written on them for children
to solve, so write riddles on the lights around your event and give
children sheets to fill in with the answers. When they return them,
reward participants with a red envelope - traditionally, these are
filled with money, but sweets will be more economical.
Hanukkah (22-30 December 2019)
Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights. The date changes each
year, but it always falls during November or December. 'Hanukkah'
means 'rededication' and celebrates a miracle that occurred during
the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The festival
lasts for eight days and involves lighting candles and lamps in
honour of the miracle of the oil in the temple.
Event idea: Dreidel evening
A popular pastime during Hanukkah is playing with a dreidel,
which is a cross between a spinning top and a dice. The game begins
with each player having an equal number of an item, such as tokens
or sweets. Each player begins by placing one of these into the
middle. They then take it in turns to spin the dreidel, and the
symbol it lands on dictates what happens next. 'Gimel' means the
spinner gets all of the items in the middle, 'nun' means they get
nothing, 'he' means they get half, and 'shin' means they must put
another item into the middle.
Invite attendees to mix and play together, in the style of a
beetle drive. Charge a set price to attend, and give all attendees
an equal number of playing pieces when they arrive. Award prizes
based on how many tokens they have left at the end of the event.
Fried food is often eaten at Hanukkah - offer latkes (a type of
potato fritter) or doughnuts.
Holi (9-10 March 2020)
Otherwise known as the 'Festival of Colours', Holi is a two-day
Hindu festival that celebrates the end of winter and beginning of
spring. The first day is marked by gathering around the bonfire to
symbolise the legend of Holika and Prahlad and the triumph of good
over evil, but it's the second day you might be more familiar with.
This is when crowds come together to throw perfumed powder known as
gulal, representing the love between the Hindu Gods Radha and
Krishna. Each colour represents something different - red is love,
blue is Krishna, Yellow is turmeric and green is spring, although
other meanings are sometimes applied.
Event idea: Colour run
A colour run is a great basis for a Holi event and can be
enhanced with other popular elements of the festival. Position
volunteers along the course to throw coloured powder, and invite
children to squirt runners with water pistols to help the powder
stick. Invite along a troupe of Dohl drummers and Indian dancers
and gather everyone together afterwards with packets of powder to
sing and dance in a spectacle of colour (make sure there's a
photographer!). Afterwards, serve traditional refreshments such as
sweet dumplings and lassi, which will be a welcome reward for your
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