I think that the subject of "Christmas around the world," is a fun and interesting way to introduce students to different cultures. With the help of a wide range of literature, the students have the opportunity to learn about how cultures around the world celebrate Christmas differently, and also how some Christmas traditions may be the same. Through learning about how different countries celebrate Christmas, the students may also find out that some of the unique ways that their families celebrate Christmas originated in another country.
Tripp, V. (1997). Josefina’s Surprise.
Josefina and her family are having a difficult Christmas, because it is their first after Josefina’s mother passed away. Through the town’s grand celebration that the family prepares for, the reader is introduced to many Mexican traditions. The author incorporates a variety of Spanish words throughout the story, and a glossary is provided in the back of the book. This book provides a fun and easy read to help the reader get acquainted with the Spanish culture through the memorable character, Josefina. However, this book does have a gender bias in the sense that it is geared towards girls, and would be seen negatively if a boy read the book.
Yep, L. (2000) Dream Soul.
Joan Lee and her family experience their first American Christmas
This book is the Irish version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Within the poem are Gaelic words, and the translations are provided. There are also words that are particular to the Irish culture, but no English translations are provided, and so the poem is hard to follow at times. However, each page is colorfully illustrated, depicting what is occurring in each stanza of the poem. The pictures also reveal many aspects of the Irish culture, particularly pertaining to Christmas traditions. This book could provide a great activity of students creating their own “Night Before Christmas” poems, including elements from their own cultures and family traditions.
Delacre, L. (1990). Las Navidades: Popular Christmas Songs from
This book contains a collection of Christmas songs from
Through the story of an American family putting of their Christmas tree, the reader learns about how Christmas trees are celebrated in other countries. Multiple stories of how the Christmas tree was created are told by the parents of the family, and the different types of Christmas trees are depicted through colorful illustrations. This book is an easy to read fictional story that provides bits of interesting facts about Christmas trees from around the world. This book would be interesting for students to see how Christmas trees differ around the world, and it is also a cute story to read about a family enjoying their American Christmas tree.
Edens, C. (1997). Nicholi.
The story in this book does not come from a specific country or culture, but it does tell about a unique snow carving carnival that a small mountain village has each Christmas. A mysterious man, Nicholi, who has an astonishing resemblance to Santa Claus, creates the most beautiful snow sculpture of a sleigh and reindeer. Nicholi takes the village children on a magical ride in his snow sculpture, and then disappears along with the sculpture. This story is enchanting and unique, and would show the students a unique way to celebrate Christmas through a snow sculpting contest.
This book tells the classic story of Marie, the nutcracker, and how the nutcracker comes to life, traveling to magical places with Marie. On each page are detailed and colored drawings, along with photographs of historical objects that help explain certain aspects of the story. This particular version of The Nutcracker would help students familiarize themselves with a variety of different aspects from German culture because of the interesting information that the photographs and descriptions provide. The version found in the book tells a slightly different story than students may be familiar with from the ballet.
This book depicts Christmas celebrated by a Spanish family. In the story, a little girl, Maria, and her mother enjoy making tamales for the Christmas feast. In the spirit of Christmas, Maria’s mother allows her to wear perfume and lipstick, and Maria also wishes that she could wear her mother’s beautiful, diamond ring. When Mara’s mother sets the ring down while making the tamales, she is tempted to put it on, and it becomes lost while she makes the tamales with her mother. This book would be helpful to introduce students to ethnic foods that families from other cultures make for Christmas while teaching them a lesson about telling the truth and responsibility.
M. Mayer, M. (2001). The Real Santa Claus.
This book explores the real man, St. Nicholas, behind today’s myth of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas was a bishop, and used his position to help many people, and he was said to have also performed miracles. The book provides detailed information about St. Nicholas’s life from birth to death, along with historical pictures of St. Nicholas. This book would only be appropriate for students who no longer believe in Santa Claus, because it spells out that Santa Claus does not really exist in the sense that children picture him. This background information on the real Santa Claus would help students realize where the myth of Santa Claus came from, and what St. Nicholas did to become known as such a great man. This book could also help students realize that the Christmas spirit is in helping others, and being kind, not just through giving gifts.
Weil, L. (1987). Santa Claus Around the
This book features Santa Clauses from a variety of countries, and
how he is viewed and celebrated differently in each country. In this book, Santa Claus is depicted from the countries:
Folktales (names given are translator, illustrator and editor)
Bierhorst, J. (1984). Spirit Child: A Story of the Nativity.
` This book provides an Aztec version of the Christmas story-Jesus’ birth. The tale combines stories from the Bible, medieval legends and traditional Aztec lore. The illustrations in the book depict persons of dark skin and black hair, representing those from the Spanish culture. In the story, a few aspects of the traditional tale are altered, but it mainly follows the same chain of events. It is important to note that this is a religious tale, and should be used with discretion, especially in public schools. However, I think that it would be interesting for students to read the Christmas story as told from a different culture, and students from the culture would appreciate the tale.
This folktale tells a story about Halvor and his great white bear. On their journey to see the King of Denmark, Halvor and his polar bear seek shelter at a home where trolls expect a feast every Christmas Eve. The trolls are scared by the great white bear, and never bother the family again. This would be an excellent book to introduce students to folktales with because the story is interesting and easy to understand. The students are also exposed to a Christmas story from another country as well.
This folktale tells a story about a little girl who is left at family’s doorstep by a caravan. The family takes in the little girl whom they name Oona, and raise her as their own child, but when Oona grew up no one would marry her because she was from a gypsy family. Despite disappointment and rejection, Oona had a big heart, and was very charitable during the famine. Near death from hunger, Oona was encountered by The Gentle People (fairies), and they built her a terrific cabin supplied with food for Oona to feed herself and the townspeople with. This folktale was difficult to read, but would be worth it for the teacher to provide a simplified version for the students. The folktale could also be done as a read aloud, and the teacher could explain the story as she reads. Many Gaelic words are incorporated in the story, and is rich with the Irish culture.
Lankford, M. (1995). Christmas Around the World.
In this book, there is a collection of countries with a descriptive page on how that country celebrates Christmas. The countries are listed in alphabetical order beginning with
Sechrist, E. (1998). Christmas Everywhere.
This book provides a collection of Christmas celebrations from every region of the world. The descriptions of each Christmas celebration are very detailed, yet easy to read and follow for younger readers. The book is mainly informational, but also includes a few short stories, poems and songs. This book is a good resource for students to learn many things about Christmas celebrations in different countries.
Professional Resource Links
Have you ever wondered how people in Iceland celebrate Christmas? Click here---> World View
Would you like to know which countries celebrate Christmas during summer? Click here ---> North Pole
Need some Christmas around the world
lesson plan ideas? Click here ---> Education
Created by: Cassandra