Christmas School 2013

I guess I haven’t really mentioned our plans for Christmas School this year, have I? We’re back to “Christmas Around the World,” after two years focusing on Christmas through American history, and Christmas in England, respectively. I chose five countries to study this year: Germany, Greece, Russia/The Ukraine, Sweden, and France. My Celebrate Christmas Around the World teacher resource book has been, as always, a great help in planning our lessons!

We always focus on Germany when we learn about different Christmas customs, because so many of our traditions originate from that country. I chose Greece again this year because we’ve been learning about the ancient Greeks and Greek mythology in our regular studies (plus, it tied in nicely with the commemoration of St. Nicholas). We’ll be learning about Christmas in Russia (and Ukraine, by extension), as a lead-in to our Olympics studies in February. Bunny wanted to learn about Christmas in Sweden again this year, so she could be Santa Lucia, and since it’s been a few years, I thought it would be fun to do that again. And I asked Turkey what country he’d like to learn about, and he chose France, which we really haven’t focused on before. Here’s a brief rundown of the activities I have planned for each country (please bear in mind that we’ve already completed some of these activities since I got such a late start on blogging about it)–stories, music, and a craft or baking project (and, of course we’ll be learning the Christmas greeting in each country’s native language, as well as a general overview of what their celebrations and traditions look like!):

Germany–Frohliche Weihnachten!

Greece–Kalá Christoúgenna!

Russia/Ukraine–Hristos Razdajetsja!

Sweden/Scandinavia–God Jul!

France–Joyeux Noël!

In addition to learning about these countries, we’ll have our standard Nutcracker Day (I know have four different ballet company’s interpretations of this Christmas standard!), and our Christmas in Italy Day, which has also become a tradition. We may also read A Christmas Carol out loud if there’s time, because it’s also a favorite. I have a few field trips planned (one of which we’ve already been on), and possibly some other special events. I love planning for school at this time of year!

Kala Christougena!

Today was “Christmas Around the World: Greece” in our little school. Actually, it was more of a Greece/Turkey hybrid, but it worked. I had to throw in Turkey because we also learned about Saint Nicolas (since the commemoration of his death is tomorrow, I wanted to make sure we read the story today, and kept things timely), who hailed from what used to be called Lycia, but is now Turkey.

It  was quite amusing hearing Turkey and Bunny attempt to say “Merry Christmas” in Greek (and I have to admit, my pronunciation of “Kala Christougena” wasn’t that great, either!)  We had a fun time learning about Greek children’s tradition of caroling to homes with triangles, drums, and sometimes, small boats, as a nod to their sea-faring tradition. They were very intrigued to learn about the treats the children often receive in response to their songs! Turkey and Bunny also enjoyed coloring a picture of this tradition from their new Christmas coloring books.

Turkey and Bunny were also quite surprised to learn that the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas a week later than most other Christians do.  They did find similarities in our celebrations, though: we all go to church to celebrate Christ’s birth, many of the foods are the same, the Christmas tree with a star on top is the same, the gathering of friends and family is the same, not to mention the giving of gifts!

The highlight of the day, by far, though, was the eating of the baklava. Although I should have chopped the walnuts a little smaller, and I wrinkled some of the phyllo dough a little too much, it was delicious (and a nice bridge between Turkey and Greece, as there seems to be some question from where it originates)!  I have to admit that I was a little surprised that Turkey and Bunny enjoyed it so much–I thought it might be a little too different for them, but they loved it, and had seconds after dinner tonight.  Making baklava might even become a family tradition for the commemoration of Saint Nicholas every year!baklava

We enjoyed our first stop across the world, and we’re definitely looking forward to visiting the Philippines, Italy, Mexico, and Germany in the next two weeks!