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What traditions does your family use to celebrate Christmas?
With young kids, our family is really just starting to establish our holiday rhythms, but we do have a few traditions that we faithfully enjoy. I like to put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, just like my family did when I was a kid, and I make sure to have Christmas music and hot chocolate on-hand to really set the mood. And last year, my older son and I built a gingerbread house for the first time—and then slowly tore it down, as we nibbled at it bit by bit over the weeks leading up to Christmas.
For our family, however, the Christmas tradition that is the most important—even more so than decorating and food—has been using Advent as a special time to prepare for and learn about the coming of Christ. As Christians, we want to use this time to year to solemnly— yet joyfully!—prepare ourselves to celebrate the miracle of Christ’s incarnation.
So last year, for the first time, I tried to incorporate an Advent curriculum into our family’s daily devotional time. However, I struggled to find one that fit my son’s needs (as an active preschooler) and my personal strengths (as a non-crafty mom). We ended up using a curriculum that worked okay, but it wasn’t phenomenal—the Bible passages were much too long to hold his attention and the curriculum required a lot of preparation and Pinterest-y work on my part. With a bored child and a stressed-out, glitter-covered mama, our Advent study didn’t exactly model the wonder and joy of the season.
It was for that reason that I was so excited this year to discover Christmas Around the World, a new Advent study for globally-minded families like ours. And once I got a copy, I was even more encouraged to see how practical and enjoyable it could be for our family. Christmas Around the World combines geography, cultural education, and Advent preparation in a beautiful, easy-to-use curriculum that requires NO planning or preparation from mom. It’s suitable for families with preschool-aged children or older, and can easily be used with children across many age groups, so it’s great for larger families.
Here’s how the study works: for each of twenty-four days, your family will learn about Christmas traditions from a different country. There is a short read-aloud for mom—or an older child—to do, along with a worksheet and an (extremely simple) art project to help extend students’ learning. The lessons really do span the globe: students will learn about Christmas in Germany, France, Spain, South Korea, Egypt, and Greenland, just to name a few of the countries included! And for students studying foreign languages, this is a great way to include some cultural education as motivation for language learning—so many languages are spoken in these twenty-four countries that every child will find something to connect with!
For our part, we’re planning to use Christmas Around the World not only as an Advent curriculum, but as a great way to introduce some basic geography to our son. Since we speak Spanish and Portuguese at home, he’s recently become interested in the countries where those languages are spoken, and thanks to a new globe he got from our neighbor, I can start teaching him where those countries are! We plan to play “find the country” on the globe with each of the countries as we go through the Advent traditions, so that he gets a better sense of how Christmas is celebrated globally.
And here’s a fun add-on: if you get your copy of Christmas Around the World now, you’ll receive a free passport for your child to use as you “visit” the different countries featured in this study. It’s a great way for kids to keep track of what they’ve learned and to encourage a global mindset in your children!
What traditions does your family use to celebrate Advent—do you have any unique ways to mark the season?