Today we learned about Christmas in Italy. The timing for this was excellent as we’re going on a field trip tomorrow that is related to Christmas in Italy (more on that later). We studied Nativity scenes (Turkey and Bunny thought it was cool that in Italy, Jesus isn’t placed in the manger until Christmas Eve), traditions related to gift-giving (very little Santa, mostly La Befana), special foods (Pizzelles–yum!) and more.
Our main focus of the day was reading the story of “Befana and the Three Wise Men” in The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories. I have to admit, this is one of the stranger Christmas legends (a “witch” chooses not to go with the Wise Men in search of the new King, but later regrets it, and tries to find them, but because she’s unsuccessful, is still searching, and leaving gifts at the homes of all children, just in case), but it does get across the point that we should never be too busy for Jesus. We’ll also be encountering La Befana at least twice this Christmas season (possibly both of them this weekend) so it’s good to be familiar with the story.
As we read the La Befana story, Turkey and Bunny re-enacted it with the stick puppets we made today. They had the whole cast of the story–Befana, the three kings, the star of Bethlehem, even the gifts Befana leaves on Epiphany. I found the patterns for them in Celebrate Christmas Around the World. This is one of the best books I have purchased for use in school. There is information on Christmas celebrations in over 20 countries, along with craft activities, games, and recipes. I have used this book every year that we’ve had Christmas school, and I haven’t come close to using everything in it.