Whether you are looking for something to do with your children on Christmas break, or you are looking for new traditions of your own, learning about traditions around the world (or sometimes even just around the block!) can be fun and eye opening.
Learning about other people’s traditions or even our own family history gives us all a better understanding of the world we live in.
So let us take a look at ways we can honor some of the traditions that are celebrated in the world around us.
This year, social media put a tradition on my radar that interested me greatly! I caught sight of memes that mentioned Jólabókaflóð, and Icelandic tradition where books are exchanged on Christmas Eve.
That sounds amazing to me! So I had to look it up. Also known as the Icelandic Book Flood, it began during World War 2 where restrictions on imports severely limited gift options. This made books published within Iceland the perfect choice. And the tradition has only grown.
At the holidays, local bookstores host authors for readings, which creates a literacy festival-type atmosphere.
After receiving their books, the people in Iceland often settle in to read with a cup of hot cocoa.
If your kids are having fun learning about this tradition, they may want to try this recipe for Icelandic Cocoa Soup from The Spirited Puddle Jumper to enjoy while reading.
This is a tradition you can carry on with your own kids, even if you haven't had a chance to get them new books! You can head over to the Story Room at the North Pole Times for a variety of great holiday reads. Or visit their YouTube channel and read along as Lily Elf reads a few of these stories for added Christmas cheer!
Most Americans have heard of Boxing Day, but what exactly is it?
Celebrated on December 26th in British Commonwealth Countries (as well as a few others), Boxing Day is also known St. Stephen’s Day. St Stephen has been associated with charity or giving, which was a big part of Boxing Day’s history.
It is known as a day to give to those in need. Some churches would open their collections boxes for the poor for distribution on this day.
But it is also a time to give to those that provide a service. Land owners would box up small gifts, money, and leftovers to give to their servants and employees.
Presently it has evolved into a shopping day, and a day for sporting events.
But in honor of its roots and St. Stephen, I propose that this is the day we go through the house and find donations to give to charity. And perhaps it would be a great day to leave a gift card for your USPS carrier. It is tough to go back to work the day after a holiday, and that could put a smile on their face.
And then, after paying respect to a UK holiday, blow your kids’ minds with some Yorkshire Pudding that isn’t a pudding at all, with this recipe from allrecipe.com.
The Strangest Christmas Traditions
If you start looking into different traditions around the world, you can find a lot of variety!
In Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, it is customary to roller skate to Christmas morning mass. So many people take part in this tradition, the roads are closed to traffic!
It gets stranger! Kids will dangle their feet out of their window with strings tied to their big toes. Skaters will tug at the strings as they skate by.
And in Japan it is popular to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas day! Prior to this tradition, Christmas was not widely celebrated, as only a small portion of Japan’s population is Christian. But in the 70s, the owner of the first KFC in Japan decided to market “Kentucky for Christmas”. And it took off. Today it is so popular, meals must be pre-ordered.
Family History Discoveries
A few years ago, my youngest child had an assignment from school. He had to interview an older member of our family about their Christmas traditions so he could see how technology has changed our celebrations. He picked my father. I sat with him as he called him to ask him a series of questions.
Because I knew many of these stories, I didn’t expect my son to be so astounded by it all. He thought dad was kidding when he told him that the lights on their Christmas tree were candles! It seemed so dangerous to him!
And this was before his family had a television too. He thought, “Papa must have been bored.” But my dad explained they would play card games and listen to the serial radio shows. And then he had to explain what that was!
He couldn’t imagine how different life was in just a few generations. So to give him an idea of what it was like we found this great website full of classic Christmas-themed radio shows. It was hard getting him to listen to a radio show. So watching the movie “A Christmas Story” is aan alternative way to relate to his papa’s stories.
So while we have passed down some traditions, such as recipes, the evolution of our entertainment can be astounding for our children growing up in a time when we all have a TV on our phones!
Travel Around the World
For some other ideas, check out Fly About Frannie over at the North Pole Times. This year she visited families in four countries to teach kids about the variety of ways Christmas is celebrated around the world. These are great, simple reads for your children, and it may inspire them to want to learn more!
Frannie visited Ireland, Columbia, Poland, and Australia. Christmas break is a great opportunity for your kids to read about her adventures and seek out more info about the celebrations in these countries.
For proof that Santa is real, pick up one of our magical Santa Proof Kits.