Learn about the history of this colorful holiday and enjoy some food and crafts with your kids
Say goodbye to winter and hello to spring! Holi, the annual Hindu Festival of Colors, is steeped in rich history and celebrated with vibrant reds, yellows, blues, and greens. It’s a perfect opportunity for family fun while also teaching your kiddos about this unique holiday. We’ve got great ideas (like crafts, recipes, and books) to help you have a Holi celebration and learn with little ones.
What is Holi?
The second most famous festival in India after Diwali, Holi (originally known as Holika) symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the start of spring. Celebrated around the world, Holi is most known for people throwing colored powders in the air and splashing them on others!
While it’s a super fun occasion, it’s important to understand the holiday's significance and support the communities from which it came.
- Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors, the Festival of Spring, and the Festival of Love.
- Holi is a two-day event, starting on the day of the last full moon on the Hindu lunisolar calendar. On the first day, families may have a sacred bonfire. On the second day, the celebration of the festival of colors begins.
- Holi in 2023 will start at sundown on March 8th and end at sundown on March 9th.
How to Celebrate Holi
Traditionally, on the eve of the festival, bonfires are lit to symbolize the burning of evil spirits. People throw wood, branches, and dried leaves into the flames.
The next day, during the Festival of Colors, communities throw colored powder into the air and on each other. They splash water—sometimes with squirt guns and sometimes with colored water-filled balloons. And many people wear white, so the splashed colors show up even better!
Family and friends gather for festive meals and exchange sweets in the evening.
A Holi celebration is definitely for the entire family! To celebrate with yours, start by learning about the history and culture at home. And then take a look at this (optional) list of staples to add some color to your celebration:
- Colored powder: There are tons of options online, but these are eco-friendly and organic
- Plain white t-shirts for the entire family
- Water guns
- Water balloons
- Indian food and sweets. Thandai Truffles are available here! And there are even vegan sweet options here!
- Holi décor. Lots of colorful options here!
- Thandai mix. This super popular Holi drink is available at Indian restaurants or online. This cold, sweetened milk flavored with nuts and seeds is perfect for Holi.
What Do the Colors of Holi Mean?
Each color means something different. Before you start throwing your colored powder into the air, it’s important to learn the significance and importance of each color.
- Red: Weddings, Love & Fertility
- Yellow: Turmeric and its medicinal uses
- Blue: Color of the revered God in Hinduism, Lord Krishna
- Green: New beginnings, nature, and harvest
Holi Crafts for Kids
Holi is messy—and so is a great art project!
Make Your Own Holi Powder
Sure, you can buy colored powders online or at your local Indian grocery shop, but how much fun would it be to make your own! Dry colorful flower petals and mix with rice flour or check this out for step-by-step instructions on hold to make each color.
STEM Oil, Water, and Color Experiment
Before making your own powder, why not throw in a science experiment to teach the family how oil can protect their skin? Choose a willing participant and apply baby oil on one hand and water on the other. Then, rub your Holi color equally on both hands. Leave the color on for 5 mins before washing. What happens? Oil doesn’t mix well with color, forming a thin barrier between the hand and the powder. On the opposite hand, water mixes great with color—so it’s harder to get off!
Build Your Own Water Gun
Paint an old plastic water bottle and let it dry for a day or so. Take the lid off the bottle and have an adult poke a hole in the bottle’s center. Fill the bottle with water, put the lid back on, and squeeze to squirt the person nearest you!
Colorful Rolled Papercraft
Cut out strips of colored paper. Roll them around a pencil and then glue your colorful rolled strips onto cardstock in the design of your choice. The more colorful the better and you can even add more than one layer! Click here for pictures and instructions.
Paint Splatter Cards
Splatter is such a fun way to play with color. And handmade cards will be much appreciated by family and friends—especially those that live too far to celebrate with you. Click here for pictures and instructions.
Holi Coloring Pages and Rainbow Crayons
What kid doesn’t like coloring pages? And what better way to celebrate the festival of color than by making your very own rainbow crayons! Search the house for broken crayons—you probably have more than you think! Peel the wrappers off and cut the crayons into 2-inch pieces. Arrange in a mold like this. Bake in the oven at 225 degrees for 10 mins.
Holi Recipes for Kids
India’s food varies from region to region but there are some special drinks and dishes enjoyed by all on Holi. From Thandai, Lassi, and Gujiya to Dahi Bhalle and Rasmalai, Holi can be as flavorful as it is colorful. The holiday is a perfect time to feast with family and friends. Maybe try something new!
This Thandai recipe looks delicious and comes with step-by-step instructions and helpful photos.
And for a few more culinary ideas, check out these 11 kid-friendly recipes to help you celebrate Holi.
Read a Story About Holi
Storytime is a great way to learn more about the history of the holiday and the significance of the celebration. Get cozy with your little ones and dive into a good picture book. One of our favorites is Festival of Colors, a story about a brother and sister’s preparation and celebration of Holi. We also love Holi Colors and Amma Tell me About Holi.
Want More Information about Holi? Check Out This Video: