Begin with a brief visit to the children’s own experiences of Christmas celebrations in the United Kingdom. Although the secular influences are very strong focus upon and highlight the aspects that are clearly linked to the true meaning of Christmas.
Then hop on an aeroplane and travel the world.
Resources are limited but growing. There is a wealth of material that can be found easily by searching ‘Christmas around the world’ using Google.
A great opportunity for developing research skills.
One tradition in Brazil is to create a nativity scene or Presépio. The word originates from the Hebrew word "presepium" which means the bed of straw upon which Jesus first slept in Bethlehem. The Presépio is common in North Eastern Brazil. Nowadays presépios are set up in December and displayed in churches, homes, and stores.
The most important part of the Christmas morning worship service in the Congo is the love offering, this is the gift in honour of Jesus. At about 8 or 9 o'clock everyone makes their way to the celebration of the birthday of Jesus. Everyone who attends the service goes forward to lay down their gift upon the raised platform near the Communion table. Not one person will attend the service without giving a gift.
In Greece on Christmas Eve people gather together to eat ‘Christopsomo’ (Christ Bread)
In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast, sometimes for 39 days, until January 6th Christmas Eve, when the first evening star in appears in the sky. Then begins a twelve course supper in honour of each of the twelve apostles - fish, beet soup or Borsch, cabbage stuffed with millet, cooked dried fruit and much more.
More interesting facts can be found at www.santas.net/aroundtheworld.htm
The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book by Bob Hartman ISBN 0 7459 4684 4, is brilliant and tells the Biblical story plus Christmas tales and legends from around the world.
Christian charities such as Christian Aid, Traidcraft and CAFOD sell Christmas cards that use designs and art from other cultures along with sets of Nativity characters from around the world.
In many European Countries December 6th, St Nicholas’ day is a huge celebration. Why? What happens?
St Lucia is remembered and celebrated on December 13th. This is an important celebration in Scandinavian countries and is known as the festival of Light. Why is this so important? What happens?
Some branches of the Orthodox Church celebrate Christmas in early January. Why?
The BBC website had some beautiful photos of Orthodox Christians celebrating Christmas.
Throughout the unit make comparisons and highlight the differences and similarities.
Make sure the children are guided to make links between the story, beliefs and the celebrations.