When I taught public school for six years, I always taught a unit at Christmas time. One of my biggest motivations for a Christmas unit was the opportunity to share the story of Christ’s birth. Each year I began my Christmas unit with the true story of Christmas. Then, I moved to traditions of countries around the world. By having a Christmas Around the World unit study, I was able to talk to my students about Christ and His coming to the world.
To study Christmas Around the World, here are a few tips.
1. Take a break from your regular schedule and enjoy the Christmas season with your children. There are so many activities you can incorporate into your holidays that are educational. Go ahead; you have permission to put away your regular studies and learn something important about Christ’s birth.
2. Choose the countries you wish to study.
3. Find activities and recipes that relate to that country’s traditions.
4. Choose books and/or sites that correlate to each country you choose to study. You may choose one a day, or one every few days, or one a week, whatever works with your schedule and family!
Since St. Nicholas is a popular legend, I thought I’d share it’s legend from Germany. Before sharing German customs, you should find Germany on the globe or map. Also, look up the way you say “Merry Christmas” in German. There are several Christmas traditions we have from Germany, but I will only share St. Nicholas Day.
Germany begins celebrating Christmas on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. Children leave a shoe or boot outside their door when they go to sleep on December 5. St. Nicholas, patron saint of children, moves from one house to another, carrying a book of sins in which all the misdeeds of children are recorded. Depending on how good a child is, St. Nicholas fills the shoes with goodies. Good children receive gifts or delicious holiday edibles. Bad children receive twigs in their shoes.
You might want to add this tradition to your annual customs. Or, you may want to celebrate St. Nicholas Day, German-style, just this year. Have your children put their shoes outside their bedroom door. At night, put some candy, fruit or small toy in the shoes.
A favorite sweet from Germany is Lebkuchen. Enjoy making it with your children.
4 Tbs honey
¼ cup butter or margarine
1 ½ flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
Preheat oven at 400 F.
Put honey, sugar and butter in pan on low heat, until butter melts. Take pan off heat and let cool.
Sift flour, baking powder, cocoa, ginger and allspice in bowl. Add egg yolk and set egg white aside.
Mix warm honey, butter, and sugar into flour with metal spoon. With clean hands, squeeze mixture into a ball. Add few drops water if it won’t stick together.
Roll mixture on floured board until it is ¼ inch thick. Cut shapes with cookie cutters.
Make a hole at the top of each cookie. Lift cookies onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire rack. Sift powdered sugar in bowl. Mix 2 tsp of egg white and lemon juice to make icing. Add food coloring if you want. Spoon icing into icing bag. Squeeze bag over each cookie, making patterns with the icing. When the icing dries, thread ribbons through hole of your lebkuchen. Hang up or eat them now.
Christmas Around the World is an excellent study at this time of year. Choose this unit study and your children will learn geography, math, writing, reading, music, literature and history. Your children will have so much fun, they won’t even know they are learning!
To save you some time, I’ve compiled a special book, Christmas Around the World. To read more about it, and Family Christmas Traditions, click here:
Origins of Christmas
PS Kerry wants to give you a free Advent Countdown to use in your Christmas & Advent celebration this year. Her package will also include Christmas around the world unit study.
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