Name That Holiday

Activity Objective

To look at the way we celebrate both our secular and religious events

Lesson Outcome

The children will use a review of well-known secular and religious celebrations to come to a deeper understanding of ritual.


  • Chalkboard or flip chart
  • Parish hymnals (one copy per group)
  • List of Holy Days of Obligation in the United States:

January 1: Mary, Mother of God
Fortieth day after Easter: Ascension
August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1: All Saints
December 8: Immacuate Conception
December 25: Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ


  • Ask the children to quickly name as many holidays as they can recall (include both secular and religious) and write their responses on the chalkboard or flip chart.
  • Divide the children into small groups and ask each group to choose one of the holidays for their group project. (Be sure that no two groups choose the same holiday or holy day.)
  • Give each group the task of deciding at least three things (such as food, music, colors or decorations, actions or symbols) that are usually associated with their holiday.
  • Ask one person from each group to describe their holiday without giving its name. Members of the other small groups should guess which holiday the group chose.
  • When all groups have finished describing their holidays, return to the initial list and ask the children to identify which days are civic holidays and which are holy days. Make sure the list includes all Holy Days of Obligation.
  • As a large group, try to find at least one ritual or symbol that could be associated with each Holy Day of Obligation. Examples:

1. January 1: Mary, Mother of God?Plan a baby shower for a local women's care center and pray for all pregnant women.
2. Ascension?Fly kites or helium-filled balloons.
3. Assumption?Sing "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman."
4. November 1: All Saints?Have an "All Saints Party" where children bring a symbol of a saint as their ticket to be admitted.
5. December 8: Immaculate Conception?Have a Mary Procession.
6. December 25: Christmas?Go Christmas carolling to parish shut-ins.

Learning Styles

People Smart, Word Smart

Approximate Time

15 minutes


If there is time, the group could make a poster using pictures of the symbols, songs, colors, and so on, that they associated with their holiday.


If there are children in your group with special needs (physical, visual, hearing, language, or behavioral disabilities), adapt the activity accordingly.