Every child knows the Christmas traditions that are common throughout the United States. They’ve all heard the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, they all know about Santa’s naughty and nice list, Christmas trees and all of the baking that occurs during the Christmas season.
But what many people do not know is that Christmas is not celebrated around the world the same way as it is here. Sierra Primary School in Herlong decided that this year they would expose their students to Christmas traditions from six other countries around the world.
The school tried to represent a country from every continent so that the students would get a wide variety of Christmas traditions that may be very different from their own.
Each student traveled to the different countries with a suitcase and received an emblem for each country to decorate their suitcase. They also got to color the flag of every country they visited in their journey.
Kindergarten teacher Elise Williams taught the kids about Mexico. She showed them a serape, sombrero, and read them “The Legend of the Poinsettia.” They also made a poinsettia craft and talked about Las Posadas, the Mexican celebration of the nine days before Christmas.
Shelley Marcotte, the first and second grade teacher, did Christmas in Germany. She taught them “Oh Tannenbaum,” the German equivalent of the Christmas song, “Oh Christmas Tree” At this station, the students all got to make their own Christmas trees.
The third and fourth grade teacher Janean Embry showed what Christmas is like in Madagascar. She showed the students a brief video on different cultures around the world and how different life in Madagascar is than life in the U.S.
Fifth and sixth grade teacher Jamie Taylor exposed the kids to the country of Egypt. She dressed in a traditional Egyptian dress and wore a scarf on her head to show the students that Egyptians dress differently than they do. She also discussed Muslim winter holidays, played Egyptian music, and had every kid write his or her name in hieroglyphics.
An aide at the school, Kayla Pacheco exposed the students to Sweden’s holiday, St. Lucia Day. She brought a traditional wreath of candles to show them and explained the holiday and it’s differences between our Christmas celebrations.
Finally, the special education teacher Linda Winchell had the children all make a shamrock craft, while learning about holiday traditions in Ireland.
At the end of the day, everyone got to try a traditional treat from every country. Mexican wedding cakes, potato candy, Danish pastries, Madagascar biscuits, German chocolate cupcakes and dried dates and chickpeas were the foods that everyone got to try to get a taste for foods that are served in the places they learned about throughout the day.
The school “would absolutely do it again, it’s a great way to expand cultural awareness and geography,” said Williams. “My favorite part was that a couple of us had the clothing with it so they would feel it, see it, touch it, and that there was food that they could taste.”
The event gave the students exposure to things that they may not have in the United States, places they may never get to visit, and people they may never get to meet.
Sierra Primary School plans on doing another Christmas Around the World event with their students next year, and will introduce new countries so that their students can have the opportunity to learn even more about Christmas in different countries around the world.