Professional Learning

Cultivate an Appreciation of Spanish Cultures through Their Holidays

3 Min Read
Cultivating Students Appreciation For Diverse Cultures Spanish

Teaching about other cultures and their holidays is a fun way to incorporate activities into your World Languages curriculum and transport your students across the globe without leaving the classroom.

Beginning this month, spark global learning moments for your class using lessons from the 2018 Spring HMH Spanish Calendar. Your students will come away with an informed appreciation and knowledge of historical and traditional holidays from countries like Spain, Mexico, and Peru.

Don’t forget to share how you used the lessons to expand the cultural knowledge of your class on our Facebook page.


 March 23-31—Spain

 La Semana Santa, or Holy Week 

Holy Week

Celebrated a week before Easter Sunday, the last week of Lent—La Semana Santa, or Holy Week—marks Spain’s Roman Catholic heritage. This annual holiday dates back to the 16th century when the Catholic Church created processions to highlight the story of the Passion of the Christ so that it would be easily understood and appreciated by the masses.

Spanish cities and towns across the region honor the holy tradition by hosting parades featuring majestic floats decorated with sculptures that portray scenes related to the Passion of the Christ or the Sorrows of Virgin Mary.


Instruct your students to read the article from ¡Avancemos! that details how La Semana Santa is celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world. As a follow-up assignment, organize them into groups and have them make their own alfombra de aserríns (sawdust carpets) with colored construction paper.


May 5—Mexico

Cinco de Mayo 

Cinco De Mayo

This holiday is widely associated with lively festivities, delicious food, and jovial music and is celebrated in both the US and Mexico. Thought by some to denote Mexican Independence Day, the actual significance of this holiday traces back some 50 years before Mexico was liberated. On May 5, 1862, Mexico’s army defeated France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, inciting pride and emphasizing Mexico’s resistance to French imperialism. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is observed mainly in the state of Puebla with military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla, and other festive events; it is not recognized as a federal holiday.


To spotlight the resilience of the Mexican army over the French, ask your class to identify a challenge in their lives whether it be academic, extracurricular, or personal and have them write a short essay in Spanish about how they can conquer their obstacles.


June 24—Peru

Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi

The literal rising of the sun is the impetus for this yearly commemoration in Sacsayhuaman, Cusco. Originally the festival served as the new year celebration for the Incans and noted the return of the sun during the winter solstice.

Modern celebrations take place in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Ecuador and feature colorful processions and symbolic offerings of figurines and effigies.

The Inti Raymi was founded by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth Sapa Inca (ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco) and one of the greatest conquerors in the empire.


Guide your students to conduct research into learning more about how Inti Raymi is celebrated in Latin America using ¡Avancemos! and then direct them in organizing and planning an Inti-Raymi-themed celebration.


For more holidays to explore with your students, check out El Profe, our new biannual newsletter for Spanish language educators, from which you can download the spring holiday calendar.

Image Sources:

Holy Week, Spain      ©Ivo Pop/Shutterstock

Cinco de Mayo           ©nik wheeler/Alamy Stock Photo

Cuzco Festival           ©marcosiorio/Shutterstock

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