Every year we celebrate Christmas Around the World in my geography classes the week before the holiday. Of course, first we have to ask, “What is Christmas?” and “Why do we celebrate it?”. And then, when we understand that Christmas is remembering Jesus’ birth, and knowing that not all countries believe in Jesus (as a whole), then we can talk about what countries may or may not celebrate like we do.
Before I start introducing the traditions of other countries, first I let the kids share about their own family traditions. Some have a big meal, some go to a grandparent’s house, some go to church, others open gifts on Christmas Eve…the list goes on. But kids love sharing these things with their friends and classmates. And at the same time, they are explaining to each other what a Christmas tradition looks like.
I usually paraphrase, rather than read each word, and we don’t cover ALL the countries in the book. But the illustrations are great, and with information in snippets, alternating with a favorite carol or two, the kids stay interested and attentive.
And then comes the part they have all been waiting for: decorating Christmas cookies, or making gingerbread houses, or something similar. Of course, you can always do any kind of Christmas craft. But since we do crafts all year long, I like to do something a little more out-of-the-ordinary by including something with food. And they love it. Cookies leave the room with mountains of icing and avalanches of sprinkles. And everyone is happy. And that’s most important of all.