Several nurseries in the UAE have been celebrating a hundreds-of-years-old Emirati tradition to mark the arrival of Ramadan, known as Hag Al Laila.

Over this week, tiny tots from different nationalities were seen arriving at their schools adorned in traditional Emirati attires.

From singing joyous melodies to showcasing lively dance moves, they participated in an array of delightful activities, making the school atmosphere electrifying with laughter and fun.

Hag Al Laila is observed on the 15th night of Sha'ban, also known as Qargian, and falls on the upcoming Sunday this year. While the exact dates may vary slightly depending on local moon sightings, Ramadan 2024 is anticipated to begin in the country on March 12.

However, it’s worth noting this celebration is not confined to the UAE but is also observed in other Gulf countries.

Integrating cultural celebrations

Nursery owners highlighted they integrate cultural celebrations into their curriculum, ensuring that each event contributes meaningfully to the overall growth and understanding of their students.

Dr Vandana Gandhi, CEO & Founder, British Orchard Nursery and Teacher Training Centre, UAE & UK said, “Each celebration is a gateway to fostering a love for learning, creating an environment where the children not only celebrate the richness of festivals but also embrace the diversity of cultures represented in our global community. Our celebration of Hag Al Laila is a dynamic and engaging experience for both our students and educators.”

She added, “We incorporate a range of activities that blend fun with learning, creating a memorable and educational celebration. Children actively participate in hands-on tasks, such as crafting vibrant lanterns, traditional treats, decorations, music and dance, providing valuable opportunities for skill development, creativity and self-expression. These activities not only immerse them in the cultural significance of Hag Al Laila, but also provide valuable opportunities for skill development, creativity and self-expression.”

Gandhi pointed out that the purpose of celebrating events like Hag Al Laila across its 30 branches in the country extends beyond just the immediate festivities.

“It serves as a vital platform to instil a sense of unity, cultural awareness and mutual respect among our young learners. By actively engaging children in such celebrations, we aim to create an inclusive environment where every child feels a sense of belonging and appreciation for their own cultural heritage.”

Vibrant display of festivity

Educators at preschools also stressed that Hag Al Laila serves as a reminder of the importance of community spirit and the significance of passing down traditions to the younger generation.

The purpose aligns with their broader commitment to providing a well-rounded education, fostering family bonding and preparing the little ones to become global citizens who value differences and contribute positively to the world.

Sara Thomas, the director of Butterflies Nursery, Umm Al Quwain, said, “It is eagerly awaited and joyously celebrated every year at our nursery. This vibrant occasion is a cherished time when children the take centre stage amidst a backdrop of Emirati culture and tradition. It transforms our nursery into a spectacle of festivity. Children arrive adorned in colourful traditional UAE attire, ready to immerse themselves in the enchanting festivities.”

Educators reminded that additionally, the essence of Hag Al Laila promotes the virtues of sharing and giving, values that hold great importance during Ramadan.

“As the children exchange sweets and small gifts amongst themselves, the air is filled with warmth and camaraderie. Their beautifully coloured bags, filled with treats, serve as tokens of cherished memories. This year, we elevated the celebration to new heights by creating a traditional corner adorned with a majestic majlis in our outdoor area. The festivities extended to delightful activities such as face painting and henna,” added Thomas.


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