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Explore geography, history, and folklore, while enjoying the festive mood of the holiday season with this Christmas Around the World lesson plan!
In places where the seasons are well defined and the winter months are cold, December often brings a celebration that revolves around a particular character who brings the festive spirit along with a bag of presents for children.
Santa Claus is one of the most famous characters, associated with winter holidays in the modern times. But in Europe, many countries celebrate his prototype, Saint Nicholas. In Slavic countries, people wait for Father Frost, who also looks and behaves like Santa Claus. In Scandinavia, the gifts are brought by a gnome, and in Iceland, there is a jolly gang of trolls. The list doesn’t end here. There are plenty of other unique gift-bringers around the world!
In this pack, we are going to explore Christmas celebrations around the world through the stories of these characters.
The List of Christmas Characters:
Santa Claus (USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain), Christmas Elf (USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain), Befana (Italy), Christkind (Austria, Switzerland, Germany and many other countries of Europe and South America), Three Kings (Spain, Mexico), Julenisse (Scandinavia), Knecht Ruprecht (Germany), Krampus (Austria, Germany, Croatia), Zwarte Piet (Netherlands), Olentzero (parts of Spain and France), Tió de Nadal (parts of Spain), Tante Arie (parts of France), Saint Lucia (Scandinavia and Italy), Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and many other European countries), Grandfather Frost (Russia), Snegurochka (Russia), Chyskhaan (Russia), Tovlis Papa (Georgia), Uvlin Uvgun (Mongolia), and Yule Lads (Iceland).
Christmas Around the World Lesson Plan Features:
108 printable pages in PDF!
Here are a few questions that may need answering before you decide how suitable this pack is for your family!
- Can I use this pack if my children still believe in Santa Claus?
- Yes, as long as they would be alright with the knowledge that children in other countries get gifts from different characters. While some of the articles on gift-bringing characters briefly discuss their roots, the fact that parents play their roles in the modern world has been tactfully omitted. If your children already know that, they will understand. If they don’t, the articles shouldn’t reveal any secrets.
- Is this pack religiously-oriented or secular-oriented?
- Neither. This material objectively presents the traditions in different cultures without much examination of the belief-systems behind them. Many gift-bringers came from Christian traditions (Christkind, Saint Nicholas, Saint Lucia, and, surprisingly, Befana), while others have pagan or secular origins (Yule Lad, Julnisse, Snow Maiden).
- Do all these characters come at Christmas time?
- Thereabouts. As you meet different characters, you will find out that not all of them come on Christmas day, though. Sinterklaas comes on his own day, December 6, but for those countries who celebrate him, this is the beginning of the seasonal winter celebrations. Tovlis Papa, from Georgia, behaves in many ways like Santa Claus and brings gifts for children, but he actually comes on New Year’s Eve. Befana is even known to sneak into houses through a chimney to leave her gifts, but she comes on the day of Epiphany (January 6), which concludes the holiday celebrations in Italy.
Whenever these characters come though, they add to the festive spirit of winter celebrations. And if you get into the spirit of Christmas around the world, you can hold your own celebrations of different characters. Have Krampus visit on December 6 or dress like Saint Lucia, with candles in your hair, on December 13.