Celebrating Christmas Musical Traditions Around the World

Christmas-music-around-the-world-multicultural-kids

In the western world, Christmas is big. While retail stores start marketing in late September, the general public doesn’t get into the spirit until Thanksgiving Day; largely masked by Black Friday – the day you stand in line to get the best deals of the year! The shopping is a big part, but an even bigger part is the music. Some radio stations even start playing 24 hour Christmas Carols starting the week before Thanksgiving! The music helps to inspire us, get us into the Christmas Spirit, and get us excited to spend…spend…spend.

To enhance our children’s global perspective, and help them to become global citizens, I thought it would be fun to look at Christmas musical traditions around the world, as even non-traditional Christian countries have adopted some Western Christmas traditions.

North America

We will start in North America and see how my neighbors to the south celebrate Christmas.

Feliz Navidad – Merry Christmas from Mexico

 

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated December 12 – January 6. During Christmas you will likely see nativity scenes, poinsettia flowers (the flower of Christmas Eve), and Posada Processions; which celebrate when Mary and Joseph were looking for the Inn.

Here is another traditional Christmas song of Mexico

 

 

Let’s pack up our bags and we will travel to the Europe!

 

Europe

God Jul – Christmas in Norway

There is no Santa Claus in Norway, but watch out for that Christmas Gnome. He gets angry if you don’t leave porridge.

Press Summary above to hear some beautiful traditional music of Norway.

Now, to get on our plane and fly to a continent to the far east.

 

Asia

즐거운 성탄절 보내시고 새해 복 많이 받으세요 Merry Christmas from Korea

 

Christmas in Korea is not quite the same. In South Korea, Christmas is about couples, so many of the songs that you will hear will be romantic in nature.

While you might hear the more traditional Jingle Bells, and White Christmas on the streets, on the radio, it will be something like this.

 

Or a song by one of the popular K-Pop artists like Girl’s Generation

If you are single, don’t fret. One of your friends will most likely try to find you “your other half” during the holiday season!

Alright. Time to pack-up, and move onward and downward.

 

Australia

G’day Mate – Christmas in Australia

It’s hot in Australia, so instead of wearing boots and coats, they are laying out on beaches and surfing. If you are there, pay attention to shark warnings – posted when there is a shark spotting in area beaches.

Christmas down under has a the glitz, tinsel and festive music as any western area. The difference, Australia has a rich collection of cultures – all who come with different celebrations. Most celebrate like we do in the western culture.

Here are some traditional Christmas songs in Australia

 


Well, I guess it’s time to hunker-in as it’s going to be a very long flight to Africa.

 

Africa

In Hausa – ‘barka dà Kirsìmatì’

In Yoruba – ‘E ku odun, e ku iye’dun’

in Fulani – ‘Jabbama be salla Kirismati

in Igbo – ‘E keresimesi Oma’

in Lbibio – ‘Idara ukapade isua’

in Edo – ‘Iselogbe’ – Merry Christmas in Nigeria

In Nigeria, Christmas is about family. During the Christmas season, you will find many artificial Christmas Trees, and many parties – especially on Christmas Eve.

Christmas day is spent at Church.

 


While we are enjoying the dog days of summer during Christmas, let’s venture over to Chile.

 

South America

Feliz Navidad – Merry Christmas in Chile

You won’t see Christmas Trees, mistletoe or snow in Chile. Christmas will be spent in the dog days of summer – Long summer days leading to short summer nights.

In Chile, Christmas brings families together, where they spend their days talking about family and Christmas Memories. They also spend a lot of time at Church celebrating the life of Jesus Christ.

The songs of chile will sound very familiar.

 


Here is a list of Christmas music throughout South America

 

A Fabulous Holiday Collection For your Children

We really enjoy listening to Christmas music at our house, but the traditional songs get boring after a while. For holiday music with a more cultural flair, we always chose Daria’s CD. For a fabulous collection of multicultural holiday music – Check out The Holiday CD by Daria here.

Do you and your children listen to multicultural holiday music? I would love to hear how that exposure has enhanced your child’s perspective of the world.

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About Lisa

lisanphotocolorThe Squishable Baby focuses on creating positive learning experiences through everyday life. I believe that learning about – and respecting diversity, charity, and our environment – through play, through crafts, through lessons, through giving – will not only produce more empathetic children and adults – but will put a child on a path to a love of lifelong learning.

You can find me blogging at The Squishable Baby

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7 Bilingual Kid Movies on Netflix [Holiday Edition]

BilingualKidMoviesAs the temperatures dip, kids are out of school, and colds rear their sniffling heads, your TV may be on a little bit more. At least in our house it is!

One way I rationalize extra screen time is finding ways to make it educational. We’re big fans of PBS shows that promote literacy, science, and social skills. And since bilingualism is a really important part of our family, I am also always keeping an eye out for ways to incorporate more Spanish. TV can be a perfect way to boost my kids’ exposure to their second language.

We utilize Netflix a great deal, and they do offer bilingual shows. Sadly, I have not found a simple way to search for Spanish cartoons on Netflix. Even when I changed my daughter’s profile to Spanish, this only affected the menus, not viewing suggestions. Therefore, I have done a little research and compiled my own list to share.

With the holiday season upon us, I thought I’d share seven holiday movies on Netflix that your kids can watch in Spanish. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, snuggle under a blanket, and enjoy!

Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year

Our favorite Pooh Bear rocks the Spanish in this holiday special focused on a New Year’s party that Pooh helps Rabbit plan.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

This is a collection of three short stories that make up the 65 minute movie. You can choose audio and/or subtitles in English or Spanish.

Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

We’ve enjoyed good bilingual luck with Netflix’s Mickey options in general. For a bonus, you can also find Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mickey Mouse.

Kung Fu Panda: Holiday

It’s a fun, multicultural fusion experience to watch Kung Fu Panda in Spanish. This is a shorter film at just 26 minutes.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

If you prefer puppets to cartoons, you can enjoy this classic movie. I’m not sure how you get a puppet to roll his R’s, but Kermit has me beat!

The Search for Santa Paws

You can’t go wrong with cute, Spanish-speaking puppies during the holidays. This movie (and the sequel) are both available on Netflix.

Ernest Saves Christmas

Have older kids? Ernest Saves Christmas might be just what you’re looking for! Enjoy a fun family. Laughter transcends all languages!

I hope this list helps you if you’re looking for Spanish options on Netflix this holiday season. To change the language, you can just select “Audio & Subtitles” on the menu for the show you choose. On some systems, this is represented with an icon of a speech bubble. Then, you can click on the language you prefer.

Happy holiday movie watching! What bilingual movies on Netflix have you found to watch with your children?

SarahQuezada copySarah Quezada lives in Atlanta, Georgia in a talkative, Spanglish household with her Guatemalan husband and two amusing kiddos. She is a writer and blogs about multicultural life, culture, and immigration at A Life with Subtitles. Sarah is a big fan of travel, marketing, blogging, and the beach. You can connect with her on Twitter or Facebook!

 

 

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8 Christmas Gifts for Expat Children

©expatsincebirth2014

Many expat* or internationally living families spend the holiday season travelling, visiting family, packing, un-packing and re-packing constantly. When thinking about gifts our families will receive during this time, many of us parents start gasping… How much space do we need to leave for presents in the car trunk, suitcases etc.?

What saved our family for some years was to have our presents delivered wherever we spent Christmas. We would then assemble them at Christmas, get rid of the package and store them in smaller bags or even in our suitcases. And if the toys were too bulky, we would leave them for example at grandmas’, ready for our next visit.

How to keep it simple(r)

The more we talk about Christmas with our children, the more they understand that this season is actually about giving rather than receiving. We started donating to several charities and this kind of involvement not only gives children – and us – a great sense of contributing to the world, but it also helps to keep things into perspective. It’s not about getting anything for Christmas, it’s about thinking carefully if we really “need” this now… – Also, considering that in some places in the world people just celebrated Thanksgiving, showing thankfulness for what they have (and not focussing on what they want!), convinced our children to focus more on other values than the merely materialistic ones during this time of the year.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-08 um 14.42.22Of course, these values may be difficult to explain to a young child and surely to family members and friends who “just want to make our children happy” by showering them with gifts. If you travel a lot during holiday season and want to avoid a gifts overload, you can easily find plausible reasons to keep it simple. – In our family we narrowed down the amount of presents per person to one “big(ger)” one and only a few small, mostly edible ones.

“What do you wish for Christmas?”

I don’t think that expat children wish for different things than other children. Of course, they may profit more from gifts that foster multiculturalism and multilingualism – but I think that every child would benefit from those!

When thinking about how I experienced Christmas when I was a child, I remember that I always felt a bit “different” visiting my extended family and found it difficult to communicate what I had experienced abroad. Today I know what kind of items could have helped me to approach this topic in a nice and engaging way.

To make sure that this would be interesting for our children too, I asked my children and some of their friends (aged 7-12) about what they would think would be a nice Christmas gift for an expat child. This is what they said:

1         Printouts from landmarks or national costumes

Many children spend a lot of time indoors during Christmas, and families often set up tables where they can do board games or entertain themselves, while adults can have a nice chat together.

At Activityvillage you can find some snapshots from famous landmarks children can paint or copy, or even take as example for 3D constructions. They can even put them on a (imaginary) map and talk about the places they’ve visited or learned about. – Some children also enjoy the differences and similarities of national costumes (you can find them on the same page) and they can even create new ones with a bit of imagination. Any kind of activity – game, craft etc. – that involves talking about different places will help our children share their experiences about their lives abroad in a more natural way.

2         Calendars

We usually like to offer calendars or diaries for Christmas. My sister in law composes wonderful calendars with her pictures and our children love them even more, knowing that their aunt made them.

©PriskaLimacher2014

©PriskaLimacher2014

For children who can already write, diaries can be a great gift to offer. Either about themes they like (horses, cars, some special heroes etc.) or about places they have visited or will be visiting in the new year.

Calendarsaroundtheworld

3         Books

Expats usually travel a lot and also tend to relocate several times. At every move, one of the most heavy and expensive items to move are books. The most viable options are e-ebooks or audible books. Downloading them from iTunes or on a kindle is a great gift. – Since we download most of our books, our luggages are so much lighter!

There are many books for expat children, some about Christmas around the world, and, of course, multicultural books.

Children who spend most of their childhood outside of their parents’ passport countries, are commonly called Third Culture Kids. These children get to know two, three, four or more cultures by living and sometimes litterally immerging into these “other” cultures from a very young age. I have an ongoing list of books on my blog about this topic, but I really recommend two books that were published this year and that are interesting for our children because they focus on the international lifestyle:

B at Home: Emma moves again, by Valérie Besanceney and The Worlds Within, an anthology with texts written by Third Culture Kids and edited by Jo Parfitt and Eva Laszlo-Herbert.

Bildschirmfoto 2014-12-12 um 11.12.28

4         Films and Music

When internationals meet, they often try to find topics they share. Aside from food, weather and the latest family news, music is a great way to connect. – Sharing music during the holiday season is part of many cultures. Aside from the classical Christmas songs, our children have all their preferred songs they would like their loved ones to listen to. – When I was a teenager I recorded my favourite songs on a cassette (yes, it was many years ago…) and offered it as a present to my friends. My son now does the same on his ipad. He even composes slow motion films that go with it.

Many families have typical Christmas movies they look forward to during holiday season. In multicultural and multilingual families, agreeing on the language and the genre is not always easy. But getting the film on DVD with the most important languages can save a movie evening…

If you are looking for films that have expat life as a topic and that our children like to relate to, there are films (and short films) like Mean Girls (2004) – the story of a young girl returning to her passport country – or The Terminal  by Stephen Spielberg (with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta Jones), or Hafu – the film (2014), about the unfolding journey of discovery into the intricacies of mixed-race Japanese and their multicultural experience in modern day Japan, that we liked to watch with teenage children. – You can find more suggestions about films of this kind here.

5         Items from the places they’ve lived (and they still long for)

Several children I questioned told me that they really cherish their little keepsakes. They collect items that remind them of places, moments, friends etc. in a box; a shoe box or a box someone made for them. They fill them with postcards, pictures, little souvenirs like a miniature Eiffel tower, Big Ben, or Windmill, shells, stones, concert tickets or a circus tickets etc..

Keepsake box

©ImanHamze2014

If your children don’t have such a keepsake box yet, they could make it themselves or, someone could even make one out of wood. Putting pictures by découpage technique on them transforms them into a unique item. And if they have it already: think about what small item they would like to get from Santa this year.

6         Food

Several children told me that they were looking forward to the food they would share during Christmas. One longs for the delicious dish made with curry, the next one would love to have a proper cheese Fondue. We often underestimate the importance of smell and taste while living abroad. Interestingly, many expat bloggers write also about food and you can find many of them here on MKB. –  Everyone associates Christmas with different smells and tastes. – What about offering a box full of tastes to our children? Cookies, spices or goodies they can even share once they’re back home?

©expatsincebirth2014

©expatsincebirth2014

7         Photo album

Every year I prepare a photo album for our extended family, where I assemble pictures of the most significant moments of the year. I always offered them to adults in our family until I realized that children like them too. – Children love to look and remember the time they’ve spent together with their loved ones during summer holiday or any other time of the year. They love to see how much they grow and change. They are even often the ones who took the pictures they then rediscover in the photo album. Therefore, offering our children their very own picture book would surely be a much appreciated gift.

Photo album

©expatsincebirth2014

8         Time & memories

This seems almost ridiculous and logical that every child gets to spend time with grandpa, grandma, cousins, aunts etc. during the holiday season, but do they really get to spend one-on-one time with each of them? Time is a pretty precious gift we can offer. Apart from spending hours cooking or setting up wonderful meals, we should make sure to spend enough time going ice-skating with our children, nieces or nephews. Or what about letting aunts, grandparents etc. attend a concert, a ballet, an ice-hockey match with our children or make the child decide on the activity?

Christmas gifts don’t need to be expensive. Precious moments spent with our loved ones help to build memories that we will then be able to share.  – And if we don’t forget to take some pictures of these memorable moments we’ll already have something to put in the next years’ photo album!

* I use the term “expat” for “everyone living outside his or her passport country with no regard to his or her economic, social or political condition”.

UteLimacherTHISUte Limacher-Riebold is a multilingual researcher, coach and trainer for internationally living families (at Ute’s Expat Lounge) and multilingual coach at Multilingual Parenting. She currently lives in The Netherlands with her husband and three children. On her blog Expatsincebirth she writes about being expat, Third Culture Kids, parenting multilingual children in a multicultural context and multilingualism, and about expat life in The Hague at Expat Living in The Hague. – You can follow Ute on twitter @expatsincebirth or @UtesExpatLounge, or like her on Facebook.

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Raclette: a Cheesy French Culinary Experience

Raclette is a cheesy French culinary experience that once you’ve tried it, you just can’t stop! Liking French cheese would seem like somewhat of a pre-requisite, but even our 11-year old daughter Elena, who holds her nose every time the cheese platter comes to the dinner table, is an avid fan of Raclette.

Raclette is both a type of cheese (strong smelling, semi-firm, made from cow’s milk and typically used for melting) and a dish based on melting the cheese and scraping off (racler) the melted part. And that is the ooey-gooey deliciousness of raclette that makes it palatable even for my daughter who normally has an aversion to cheese! And yes, it is a Swiss dish although it is very much a part of French cuisine, especially eaten during the cold wintery months, in the mountains and at numerous ski resorts and restaurants.

What is it about this French culinary experience that makes it so unique? It is one of many meals whose design is to create an atmosphere of conviviality amongst guests. Fondue Savoyarde and Bourgignonne and Pierrade are other community meals that fall into a similar category where guests gather around a table to share food from the same pot or cooking stone.

Raclette is traditionally fashioned into a wheel of about 6kg (13 lbs.) and, as explained earlier, is heated and the melted part of the cheese wheel is scraped off and served. For modern convenience, raclette machines have been invented.  These are typically an electrical appliance (like the one pictured below) that heats quickly and has individual trays (coupelles) for each dinner guest. Dinner guests can then individually melt their own portions of cheese and scrape the cheese onto their own plates.

Raclette - a cheesy French culinary experience

Pre-sliced portions of raclette cheese can be easily found in most supermarkets in France. You can even find flavored raclette cheese: black pepper, cumin, or white wine, for example.

Raclette - a cheesy French culinary experience

What is eaten with the raclette cheese? The cheese is served over steamed potatoes and the typical accompaniments can include a variety of charcuterie (dried meat such as ham or slices of hard sausage) and small French pickles and mini pickled onions.

Raclette - a cheesy French culinary experience

It is a convivial meal because we are all sharing the same raclette machine and there is busy chatter as we ask for the platters of cheese and charcuterie to get passed around. The raclette machine also warms the temperature of the room and makes for rosy cheeks and a cozy atmosphere! It is one of our absolute favorite family meals! We look forward to cold weather each year because we know it means we’ll get to eat more raclette!

Raclette - a cheesy French culinary experience

And just as a bit of history since I did mention that it was also Swiss in its culinary heritage. Wikipedia tells us:

Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings, in texts from Swiss-German convents dating from as far as 1291, as a particularly nutritious meal consumed by peasants in mountainous Switzerland and France (Savoy region). It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese.” Traditionally, the Swiss cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of bread.

Source: Wikipedia, Raclette

You can also read about our family’s raclette experiences: my tutorial on making raclette, enjoying raclette in the French Alps, and why we love raclette for birthday dinners and winter celebrations!

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Maria, born and raised in the United States to a Peruvian father and a Mexican mother, is today the proud mama of four trilingual kiddos. She loves their multilingual, multicultural lifestyle, living in a suburb of Paris, France, taking family vacations to the United States and eating Mexican tacos. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in French, completed undergraduate coursework in early childhood second language acquisition as well as graduate coursework in French literature. She taught beginning French at BYU before beginning her own in-home multilingual experiment. She blogs at Trilingual Mama in a quest to explore and exploit the secrets that lead to a family’s multilingual successes, including research, practical tips, resources and real life.

Now tell me because I would love to know! Do you know of any culinary experience from any other place in the world that resembles raclette?

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Over 20 Toys and Games from Around the World

20 Toys and Games Around the World | Multicultural Kid BlogsGames and toys are part of most kids’ lives. Whether poor or rich, cold or hot, big or small, each country has toys and games that all the kids (and adults!) love playing. When writing a post about Russian toys and games and talking to my friends from different countries, I was intrigued by how many are different and yet how many are similar or the same (it is worth another whole blogpost).

So in this post, I want to showcase some of the toys and games that represent some of the countries around the world. By no means is this a full list. You will find traditional ones mixed in with fairly modern ones. As it was compiled based on the information I have collected from my friends and fellow bloggers ( plus some use of Wikipedia), I am looking forward to the comments that will complete, compare, and correct the information I loved putting together!

Over 20 Toys and Games from Around the World

Argentina 

Jugar a las figuritas – it is played with “baseball” cards (of course we have soccer cards!). Kids compete with each other for their collections. The cards are placed against a wall. You throw other cards from far away and if you knocked one down then it was yours.

Austria

  maedn_produkte_05Mensch-ärgere-dich-nicht  – (literally: person don’t be upset) is a board game for 2-4 players. Goal is to move all of your 4 figures around the board without your opponent sending you back to the beginning.

 

 

 

China

tangramQi qiao ban –  also known as Tangram. Here is what Marie-Claude from Marie’s Pastiche writes on her blog: the “seven-board of cunning” puzzle was invented 1500 years ago, and still used today as a popular toy and in schools to teach trigonometry and geometry.  It consists of 7 pieces, or tans, that are moved around to create a shape, often following an outline. The 7 pieces include five right triangles (large, medium and small), one square, and one parallelogram. The rules are simple, though the puzzles range in complexity. When doing a tangram puzzle, all seven pieces must be used, they must lay flat, they must touch, and none may overlap.  Read the whole article here.  You can also get it for your electronic device here.

Finland

African tahtiAfrikan tähti  – The Star of Africa was developed in 1951. It is a Finnish family board game and was essential part of childhood for most children in Finland. Rita from Multilingual Parenting explains: You travel on foot, by sea or air – depending on how much money you have earned by finding diamonds (and not coming across bandits). The goal is to find the biggest diamond (Star of Africa). I remember this game sparking my interest in Africa, its people and wildlife.

 

France

999265-sophie-la-girafe-gambade-toujoursSophie la Girafe  – Sofie the Giraffe is a rubber toy in the shape of a giraffe that babies can chew on. It appeared in 1961 and was named after the day it was launched at (on 25 May 1961, the feast day of Saint Madeline Sophie Barat).  More toys are sold in France than babies born. It is also popular in the US, especially in California.

 

 

Germany

germanFroegelstarFröbelstern – Froebel star (sometimes called a Moravian star) – this is a traditional German advent decoration, a three-dimensional star that is made from 4 strips of paper. From Wikipedia: Crafting Froebel stars originates in German folklore. Traditionally the stars would be dipped into wax and sprinkled with glitter after being folded

 

 

 

 

Ghana

Ampe  – This is a game best played with a group of four or more, but just two people will do, too. It’s an active game, with so much clapping, singing, and jumping involved that it almost looks like a dance. It’s a game that’s been past down from generation to generation. A leader is chosen and the rest of the group either stand in a semicircle or split into groups of two. The leader begins by jumping, and when you land from your jump, you place one leg forward. Points are earned depending on which leg (left or right) meets the opposite leg of your opponent first. Everyone gets a chance to be the leader and usually the first person to reach 10 points wins! ( from Africa.com http://www.africa.com/blog/the_top_5_african_games/)

Hungary

ribikRubik kocka – Rubik’s Cube is a 3-D combination puzzle invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik and now is played all over the world. It was especially popular in the 80-ties but is still widely used. Competitions and records with Rubik’s Cube are governed by an international World Cube Association .

 

 

India

carromCarrom (also known as Karrom) is a “strike and pocket” table game of Eastern origin similar to billiards and table shuffleboard. Ayesha from Words N Needles listed it as one of the Indian games. It is found throughout the East under different names though most non-eastern people know it by the East Asian name of Carroms (or Karrom). It is very popular in NepalIndiaPakistanBangladeshSri Lanka and surrounding areas. In South Asia, many clubs and cafés hold regular tournaments. Carrom is very commonly played within families, including the children, and at other social functions. Different standards and rules exist in different areas. (from Wikipedia)

Italy

mangiafruittaIl Lupo mangiafrutta –  Fruit eater wolf is one of the classic childhood games that are played in a group. The rules of the game are quite simple. There is one wolf and all the fruit. The wolf is on one side and the fruit is in front of him in a line. Each child thinks of a name of a fruit. Wolf: “Toc Toc” (l ‘ onomatopoeia of knocking) Children: “Who is it?” Wolf: “I am the Wolf mangiafrutta!” Children: “What fruit do you want?” The wolf names the fruit and the child/children who were that fruit run around the line of the ‘fruit” and need to get back to their spot without being “eaten” by the wolf. If the wolf catches the child becomes the fruit.

Ivory Coast

mancalaAwale(aka Mancala) is a game that is played all around Africa and has several names and variations (game of six in Togo, adjito in Benin). Essentially the “pit and pebble” games are played all around the world (check out the Phillipino game sunka, it is also played in Malaysia, Ceylan, Louisiane and Brazil). Marie-Claude from Marie’s Pastiche has a great article about this game here.

The rules differ from one country to another but the principle never change: it’s a game based on calculation. You can read the detailed game rules with illustrations on Ethloludie here.  And even play it online or get it for your device here.

Japan

Playing_uta_garutaUta-garuta (or Hyakunin Isshu百人一首) are a kind of karuta, Japanese traditional playing cards. It is also the name of the game in which they are used. The game is played mostly on Japanese New Year’s holidays. On each card, a poem (waka) is written, and there are a total of 100 poems. The standard collection of the poems used is called Hyakunin Isshu, which is often also the name of the game. There are different ways to play but the main goal is to complete the poem that is being read. Read more on Wikepedia about the rules of the games.

Kenya

Kenya wire carGalimoto – wire cars – originally kids were making them to play with but now a lot of them are made for sale and for tourists. Kids still make ingenious card out of trash of all kinds. There is a great book about the cars and a teacher’s guide to it that is a wonderful resource.

 

 

 

 

The Netherlands

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a jakkolo field (Photo credit: Annette Schwindt)

Sjoelbak – Sjoelbak is a shuffelboard game, and one of the most beloved games for kids and adults in the Netherlands. The Sjoelbak is a long board placed on a table. The goal is to slide 30 wooden disks (or pucks) towards the end of the board and try to have them enter through four small open arches that are numbered from left to right: 2, 3, 4, 1. This game is played also in Belgium, France (billard hollandais) and in Germany it’s called Jakkolo, whereas in Czech they adopted the Dutch word šulbak. To read the whole story of the game and some others please read more at Ute’s blog Expat Since Birth.

 

Philippines

Sunka, or Sungka, is a Filipino game which is the same as Mancala. In the Philippines, the board is made of wood with a handle, 7 “bowls” carved on each side of the bowl, and 1 larger bowl carved on each end. Goal is to collect the most shells in your large bowl. It involves basic math principles (comparing quantities, subtraction) and there are strategies to win the game.  Thank you Lana from Smart Tinker for this information!

Poland

SkullcapsSkaczące Czapeczki, Jumping Caps is a Boardgame for players of 3+ years old for 2 to 4 persons. Skullcaps are weighted down with a metal ball, place the cap on the launcher, aim for the center of the board. Then hitting the other end of the launcher pad one ought to try to hit their target with the skullcap into the holes in the board.

The colors correspond to the circles on the board awarding the following points. Each player in his turn takes three throws. Caps remain on the board until the player proceeds to his next turn. On the board remains also those caps that did not hit any holes. If during the throw of another player such cap hits the hole, the owner of the cap receives points. If during one’s turn the cap falls into another player’s cap, presently in the hole, the player receives double points. The winner is the player who collects the highest number of points after established earlier number of turns.

Russia

mozaikaMozaika – literally means mosaic, this is one of the games that was first on my list to ask my mom to bring for my daughters as they get older.

All filled with dots and a bunch of multicolored pegs are used to mimic a design that is given with the game or to come up with designs of your own. It is for kids older than 3 years old as the pegs are quite little. For more on Russian toys check our my blog Russian Step By Step for Children. 

Somalia

Jagi Jagi – Haboona from The Ramblings of a Saudi Wife  found a video of a game she used to play as kids. It’s a Somali game, called Jagi Jagi, she remembers many fun evenings playing this with her family. Very simple. Just have 5 rocks you through one rock and need to pick up other rocks. There are different combinations of difficulty. Although the video is in Somali it is quite easy to understand what’s going on one you forward to the part where she is actually throwing the stones. 

UK

TiddlywinksTiddlywinks – an indoor game played on a flat felt mat with sets of small discs called “winks”, a pot, which is the target, and a collection of squidgers, which are also discs. Players use a “squidger” (nowadays made of plastic) to shoot a wink into flight by flicking the squidger across the top of a wink and then over its edge, thereby propelling it into the air. The offensive objective of the game is to score points by sending your own winks into the pot. The defensive objective of the game is to prevent your opponents from potting their winks by “squopping” them: shooting your own winks to land on top of your opponents’ winks. As part of strategic gameplay, players often attempt to squop their opponents’ winks and develop, maintain and break up large piles of winks. (from Wikipedia)

Ukraine

UkrainЛялька-мотанка  - Lialka-Motalka is a handmade cloth doll that is very traditional and represent a lot in the Ukrainian culture. They are usually made for the kids to help protect them and have a lot of other protective and supportive attributes for the women and the family. They wear traditional Ukrainian outfits and can be a beautiful craft to try and make with older kids.

USA

200px-Yahtzee_componentsYahtzee – a dice game made by Milton Bradley (now owned by Hasbro), which was first marketed as “Yatzie” by National Association Service of Toledo, Ohio, in the early 1940s. The object of the game is to score the most points by rolling five dice to make certain combinations. The dice can be rolled up to three times in a turn to try to make one of the thirteen possible scoring combinations. A game consists of thirteen rounds during which the player chooses which scoring combination is to be used in that round. Once a combination has been used in the game, it cannot be used again.(from Wikipedia) You can now get it for your IPod or other electronic devices.

Zimbabwe

kudodaKudoda – There’s a few variations of this game, all which need at least three players to make it fun. In this game players sit in a circle and in the middle a ring is drawn and then filled with stones. The first player tosses one stone into the air, then tries to pick up as many stones as possible from the ring before catching the pebble tossed. After that the next player has his/her turn. The play continues until all the stones have been caught. The stones are then counted up, and the player with the most points wins. ( from South Africa Inquiry Investigation)

What’s your favorite toy or game from around the world?

 

About the Author

Anna WattAnna Watt is the Editor and Co-Author of Russian Step by Step. Originally from Russia, Anna has a Bachelor’s in Education and Linguistics from Moscow State Pedagogical University in Moscow, and a Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication from University of Lille 1, IAE Business School in Lille, France. Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian. Her education, work experience and many years of teaching and tutoring both in the actual classroom and online helps her understand the needs of students as well as the design, management and promotion of language courses, textbooks and learning materials. Anna is very interested is supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wife.

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Multicultural fashion: Great graphic tees for children this holiday season

photo-144

There’s nothing like watching a young child take in the letters in the world around them.

At a young age, they are captivated by the lines, the shapes and the colors of each letter.

As they get older, you can see the light shine in their eyes as they begin to understand that each letter is more than just a shape – it makes a sound, too.

Soon it hits them that, together, letters make sounds and those sounds become words.

And, then the magic happens, when they can read those words and understand what each ones means – in whichever language (or languages) they speak.

It’s amazing progression. And, the opportunities it presents are endless.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed seeing my two sons be able to read the words around them in English and later French, and then actively choosing to wear certain tee shirts based on their message.

Yes, fashion can be another way for children (on their own or with help from their parents) to convey their individual personalities and cultures, their knowledge and appreciation of new languages and the world, and their hopes and dreams for themselves and their futures. And, multicultural fashion can be another way to simply state that they are “citizens of the world.”

Here are great multicultural graphic tee shirt ideas for children:

bilingual_brain_heart_toddler_long_t_shirt-r5f2946488c1f451a9365b2d3b3521490_f0cez_3241. Bilingual Style: Adam Beck, author of the Bilingual Monkeys blog, offers “bilingual style” tee shirts and other items to “celebrate and support the bilingual journey.” You can choose from a selection of tee shirts that proudly state that you love speaking multiple languages, you are a “bilingual ninja,” or that you’re “marvelously multilingual.” Of course, it’s hard to resist getting “I’m cute in two languages” onesie or tee shirt for your little one.

citizen_of_the_world_tee_shirt_tshirt-r655462360cc448c094ea67434d292565_8nax8_3242. Citizen of the World: This one tee shirt says it all – we’re all citizens of the world. And, I love the idea of wearing this shirt with pride to show that we’re all different, but we’re all the same, too.

german_american_tshirt-2
3. Multinational Patriot Flag Series: As citizens of the world, many of us trace our roots and our citizenship to nations around the world. That’s why I like the Multinational Patriot Flag tees from Carbon Fibre Media that allow our children to wear their nationalities with pride – on a tee shirt, onesie or more!

fig,white,shortsleeve_one_piece,ffffff4. First Kiss: Kids who love to travel across their hometown or around the world will love these subway map-inspired tee shirts from First Kiss. Each one features a public transportation map of a featured city, state or country. You can choose from Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Rhode Island, and India, among others.

girlscando5. A Mighty Girl: These days, women of all ages seem to be “fans” of A Mighty Girl. On social media, you may have seen and read some of its female empowerment messages. The site also has a store that includes “the world’s largest collection of books, toys, movies, and music for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls and, of course, for girls themselves!” Their store includes this tee shirt that shares exactly how girls can – and will – change the world.

il_570xN.664467436_eazc6. The World is My Playground: It’s so true that, these days, the world is our playground. And, that goes double for today’s youth who are growing up in an increasingly connected world. This shirt is just perfect for all children who are out to play in – and explore – the world.

YouAreBeautifulKids7. You Are Beautiful: No matter which language you speak, the phrase “you are beautiful” is one message I think every parent would want their children to hear and believe. With these three words on their shirts, children can remember that they are in fact “beautiful,” while also sharing the important message with all those around them.

While the “You Are Beautiful” tee shirt is currently only available in English, you can purchase a set of “You Are Beautiful” stickers available in 81 different languages.

cn85749018. Old Navy: These days, Old Navy offers a great selection of inspirational, French language and travel-inspired tee shirts for children.

Do you know a girl who is always dreaming of a trip to Paris? If so, she’ll love this graphic tee that is sure to further ignite a love of travel and France. Or, this one that confirms that if you dream it and believe it, it will happen.

Young French speakers will enjoy wearing one of four graphic tees that share a French saying, like this one that says “Bonjour, je t’aime.”

Boys can don inspirational tee shirts with confidence, too. They can choose from tees that state “I’m Good,” “Gr8,” and “Walk the Talk.”

Do your children like to wear graphic tee shirts with words or messages on them? Which ones do they like to wear the most? What multicultural clothing items are on your holiday shopping list? Please share your thoughts and favorites in the comments below.

photo-133Aimee Thompson, her husband, and her two sons live in Chicago. She chronicles her family’s efforts to learn more about the people, places and cultures of the world in her blog, Raising World Citizens. You also can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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MKB Instagram Challenge

mkb outdoor challengeSomething unexpected happened to me this November. Back in October the members of Multicultural Kid Blogs (MKB) began making plans to take an outdoor challenge together in the month of November. We wanted to challenge ourselves to get outdoors as much as possible—to enjoy the fresh air, to experience nature, to pause our busy lives and just be outside. We called it #mkb30for30, and committed to challenging each other to get outside for thirty minutes as many days in November as possible.

Everyone shared pictures on Instagram and tweets on Twitter, and something fascinating transpired: it was so much fun! Families from around the world were coming together, in a little corner of the internet and sharing sunshine, snow, beaches, breathtaking landscapes, quiet leaf covered paths, and more. Not only did my boys benefit from being outside more, I was also inspired by families around the world as I watched them do the same thing.  My November brightened seeing mums get out with their strollers to go for a jog in the forest or on a walk through the city landscape; it cheered me on the cold days to see other families bundling up to face the elements for a bit of fresh air; I smiled to see little ones exploring their backyard like it was a giant world to discover; it took my breath away to experience the trees, rivers, mountains, sunsets, castles, orange trees, beaches, running paths, ponds, gardens, parks, playgrounds, holiday processions, parades and moonlit nights from around the world.

If you missed the #mkb30for30 challenge, do take a look back with me.  First with a few words from some who participated, and then with a sampling of pictures from the month which really speak for themselves.

“#mkb30for30 has helped me to be a little less lazy (by systematically using the car for short trips) and instead use my own two legs to walk to and from school with [my] cute little girl, for example.  And it sure feels good!”  –Trilingual Mama

“I have loved seeing everyone’s daily life come through, as well as ‘visit’ the amazing parts of the world [they] all live in.  Also, as we went on our hike today, I felt like this exercise reminds us that although we go to great efforts to expose our kids to language and culture, it is sometimes just as important to be, to enjoy the great outdoors, without necessarily even talking to our kids (*gasp!) – silence combined with nature being especially life-giving as weary parents of young children.”  –Third Culture Mama

“If you are not taking part or even following our little #mkb30for30 challenge on Instagram (and FB and Twitter), you are missing something…great bunch of mums, I tell you.”              –The Piri Piri Lexicon

Hello everyone! We are Kicking off the #mkb30for30 from #tergensee in the #alps gorgeous weather!!

A photo posted by Adriana Kröller (@changingplate) on

Out for a walk – so far no nap! #mkbkids #mkb30for30 #kbn #momsoninstagram

A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on

A wonderful day out at the fair #mkb30for30 #Herbstmess #karlsruhe

A photo posted by Annabelle (@thepiripirilexicon) on

Jog. Park. Café. Day 4 of #mkb30for30

A photo posted by TCKmama (@thirdculturemama) on

Chilling by the lake #home #mkbkids #Montevideo #lifeisgood #springbreak #mkb30for30

A photo posted by Little World Citizens (@littleworldcitizens) on

Chilling by the lake #home #mkbkids #Montevideo #lifeisgood #springbreak #mkb30for30

A photo posted by Little World Citizens (@littleworldcitizens) on

Yeehaw!

A photo posted by Becky (@kidworldcitizen) on

#autumn walk by the #river #mkbkids #mkb30for30

A photo posted by Phoebe Thomas (@fibitee) on

#mkb30for30 discovering the gardens #nature #winter

A photo posted by Frances (@dtwtmse_frances) on

¡Qué perfección! #mkb30for30 #mkbkids

A photo posted by fortheloveofspanish (@fortheloveofspanish) on

We’ve had so much fun putting together this Instagram challenge! Join us this month by sharing your holiday photos using the hashtag #mkbholidays on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

IMG_0317You can find Kali on her blog For the Love of Spanish.

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Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark

Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark | Multicultural Kid Blogs

‘Tis the Season

As an Island girl whilst living in Jamaica “winter holidays” was never anything special to me…

Then again “Winter and Island” don’t walk hand in hand especially if one lives in Montego Bay (Jamaica)…where the beaches are at your door step!

After moving to one of the coldest Nordic countries that’s when I was really introduced to winter and the Danish winter holidays.  I must confess now I look forward to celebrating Christmas in Denmark.  Maybe it also has something to do with me becoming a mother.

Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark | Multicultural Kid Blogs

God Jul (Merry Christmas)

One can literally feel the festive season from the first of November.  That is also when most workplaces, friends, family members, schools/universities etc start having Christmas parties (julefrokost), where everyone sits, eats, and enjoys each other’s company with traditional Danish food.

Holiday decorations are already up in stores and on the walking street but all the Christmas tree lights are switched on from November 30 followed with a ceremony and the arrival of Santa Claus (Julemanden) with load of toys!

Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark | Multicultural Kid Blogs

The girls getting their holiday decorations

Even if you are an international living in Denmark you can sometimes create your own Christmas party, or julefrokost, where everyone prepares a meal from their country of origin.  This way everyone tastes one culture.

Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark | Multicultural Kid BlogsThere are different kinds of Christmas parties, too. For instance, at the Danish language school one has the opportunity to part take in a “Bingo game” (Bankospil), and if you are a lucky winner a gift awaits you.

During the game one also partakes of mulled wine (Glogg) and Danish pancakes (æbleskiver), a Danish winter holiday tradition.

From the first of December children start to open their first gifts from their Christmas calendar (jule calendar).  This is a holiday tradition where they are given a gift everyday until Christmas.  If not a Christmas calendar, a few parents do an advent calendar where the children only receives a gift on Advent sundays.

Some homes also have their Christmas tree up and decorated, while some families prefers to set their tree up the Day before Christmas!  In our home the tree is up from the first of December and decorated by the children!

Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Tree decoration on the first of December

Even though Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December here in Denmark it is a bit strange for me but quite entertaining.  For example at 18:00 pm one listens to the Queen’s speech then eats a traditional holiday meal. Afterwards you are required to dance around the Christmas tree and open presents afterward.

Expat Winter Holidays: Christmas in Denmark | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Unpacking their gifts

Have you celebrated a holiday abroad?  What traditions have you adopted from your new country?

Niceno LarsenNiceno Larsen is a Jamaican expat living with her beautiful multicultural family in Denmark.  Her website MummiVillage is a space for parents and caregivers to come together to share tips and advice.  Her blog is TinyVillage of Smiles. She can also be found on Google Plus, where she runs a community Love Without Barriers.

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Hanukkah for Kids

I am pleased to be here today to share Hanukkah for kids traditions with Multicultural Kid Blogs readers. I will share main components of celebrating Hanukkah with daily rituals, food, books, and crafts.

Hanukkah for Kids

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

What Is Hanukkah?

I think Hanukkah is one of the most familiar Jewish holidays, because it fits neatly into Western culture. It usually happens in December and sometimes overlaps with Christmas. This year, in fact, Hanukkah will end on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BC. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the high priest was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional visually distinct branch. The extra light is called a shamash, and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.

We are not at all a religious family, but we celebrate Hanukkah as a cultural holiday to celebrate Jewish roots of my part of the family. We also celebrate Christmas according to traditions that were brought over by my German husband, so our daughter gets the benefits of both holidays and enjoys extra crafts, books, special food, and presents of Hanukkah.

Read About Hanukkah8-Hanukkah-Books

There are many terrific books about Hanukkah. I pulled together a round up for you – 8 books for 8 nights of Hanukkah.

 Hanukkah Books for Preschool Age

My First Chanukah

My First Chanukkah by Tomie dePaola is a simple board book perfect for youngest children. It focuses on holiday traditions, especially on playing dreidel and lighting the menorah.

Light the Lights

Light the Lights by Margaret Moorman is good for families who celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas like we do. Again, the focus is on family traditions. Hanukkah history is included in an afterword.

The Best Hanukkah Ever The Best Hanukkah Ever by Barbara Diamond Goldin is not so much about Hanukkah, but about presents and what it means to pick a perfect gift for someone. The preschoolers will appreciate the comedy of errors that is happening for most of the book, and it can open a conversation with older kids about how to pick or make good gifts.

The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes is also not focusing on history behind the holiday but talks instead about a specific tradition (making latkes, see below) and about celebrating holidays with your friends and family. It can open conversations about reaching out to lonely people during holiday times.

Hanukkah Books for School Age

Hanukkah StorybookA Hanukkah Storybook by Stephanie Spinner is our favorite Hanukkah book. We have read it every Hanukkah since daughter was 3, but it is fairly long, and it is designed to be read over all 8 nights of Hanukkah. It still does not cover the actual Hanukkah story, but it is an immersive experience into someone else’s Hanukkah celebration. Hanukkah history and traditional Hebrew blessings are given at the end of the book.

A family hanukkah A Family Hanukkah by Bobbi Katz is also a long story better suited for independent readers, but yet again we have read it together since preschool. This book actually weaves an explanation of Hanukkah origins into the main story line.

Letter on the WindLetter on the Wind by Sarah Marwil Lamstein is the most religious of the books I chose to feature. A Jewish man in a poor village writes a letter to Almighty asking for help and sends it with the wind. The wind carries a letter far away and it ends up in the hands of a rich Jewish merchant. The story is rather complex and better suited for older kids, but the dreamy illustrations by Neil Waldman truly make this book spectacular.

One candle Finally, One Candle by Eve Bunting is absolutely a story for older kids who already have an idea of what Holocaust is. We read it for the first time last year after my 7 year old daughter listened to the brief explanation of Holocaust in The Story of the World. This book approaches the topic of Holocaust sensitively and poignantly and tells the story of celebrating Hanukkah in a Nazi concentration camp. This book will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who can connect to the horror of what happened to the innocent civilians during the WWII, but this is definitely the story that needs to be told again and again to every new generation.

Hanukkah Crafts

We are not a very crafty family, but my daughter really enjoyed making this Star of David ornament when she was in preschool. We pull it out every year during Hanukkah time.

Hanukkah DIY OrnamentFor more crafts and printables related to Hanukkah, visit this collaborative Hanukkah Pinterest board or our own Hanukkah Pinterest board.

Hanukkah Games

Another well known tradition of Hanukkah is playing dreidel games. In our family dreidel only comes out during Hanukkah and then goes away again, which makes dreidel games even more exciting. You can easily make your own dreidel and learn the rules from this dreidel printable.

dreidel_template_460

Hanukkah Food

LatkesImage courtesy slgckgc, Creative Commons 2.0

The Hanukkah story is focused on holy oil that lasted for 8 days. Not surprisingly, traditional Hanukkah foods are fried in oil and not exactly healthy. However, as part of our Hanukkah tradition, I make latkes for the first and last day of Hanukkah and invite family friends to eat with us. Over the years I have perfected a recipe for making latkes with the Magic Bullet, which makes them much less of a hassle. Here is how I do them:

  • Process 2 medium size potatoes (cut into thick pieces), 1 medium egg and 1 quarter slice of a medium onion in a Magic bullet. We usually make 3 portions of that (6 potatoes)
  • Add 4 TBS of flour, and 1 tsp of salt. Mix salt and flower in.
  • Fry latkes on high heat in sunflower or corn oil (not in olive oil, it smokes).
  • Serve with traditional sides – sour cream and applesauce.

Your Turn

Have you introduced Hanukkah to your children yet? If not, pick a book this season, Hanukkah starts on Dec 16 this year!

Natalie PhotoNatalie was born in Belarus and lives in California with her German husband and one daughter. Natalie blogs at Planet Smarty Pants about playful literature-based activities and nurturing engaged thinkers through science, engineering, and math. She works full time for a big tech company in Silicon Valley. Follow Natalie at her blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

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Advent Around the World

Christmas in Different Lands 2014

Today we are kicking off our fun Christmas in Different Lands Blog Hop. To start this year’s blog hop we are discussing Advent Around the World. Advent is the time to prepare for Christmas. The word Advent means “coming” or  “arrival”. During the month before Christmas, Christians prepare for the Advent of Jesus Christ. The church celebrating Advent goes back at least as far as the fifth century. In some religions and in the past people fasted during Advent. The fasting also once began with St. Martin’s Day which is forty days prior to Christmas and this was sometimes called St. Martin’s Lent. It was later shortened to the four weeks prior to Christmas. Advent always starts on the Sunday closest to November 30, St. Andrew’s Day. The Greek Orthodox Church still continues the fast during Advent, but not with the same rigor as the fast of Lent. (Source) The two most common practices around the world seem to be the Advent wreath and candles and the Advent calendar.

Advent Wreaths

Our Advent Wreath from United States

At one point Advent was a serious and solemn occasion. Nowadays it tends to be a time for celebration and anticipation for many.  Traditionally the primary color of Advent was purple (like Lent). Purple is the color of penitence and fasting as well as royalty. Some churches have switched to royal or bright blue to differ from Lent. The third week’s candle is often rose or pink now. At one point it was tradition of the Pope to give someone a rose during the third week of Advent mass to liven up the solemn time, and this tradition became the rose colored candle. (Source) The fifth candle in the middle is white and represents Jesus Christ. Some Advent wreaths do not have it.

Advent Wreath for Sale in Germany

Now in most countries that celebrate Advent, an Advent wreath is involved. Many Advent wreaths are made with evergreens to symbolize everlasting life. The wreath is a circle representing God’s continuous love as well as soul’s immortality (Source), similar to the one pictured above from Marianna at Bilingual Avenue. This Advent wreath looks very similar to the ones Marianna remembers from her childhood in Venezuela. She remembers having one in her classroom growing up.  Each student would bring it home for a night.  The family would light the class wreath and pray around it and then each student would add a little something for a decoration. Marianna reminisces about the wonderful bonding experience the class had creating their own wreath.

Modern Advent Wreath from Latvia and Germany

Others give the Advent wreath a modern twist like the one shared above by Ilze from Let the Journey Begin. She is originally from Latvia and now lives in Germany. The idea of an Advent wreath is thought to come from pre-Christian Germany. There is evidence of people using wreaths with candles in the long, dark days of December as a sign of hope for the future warm days of light in spring. In Scandinavia people light candles around a wheel and offered prayers to the god of light to turn the earth back towards the sun. By the Middle Ages, the Christian Church had adopted the Advent Wreath. (Source) There are different meanings for the candles. In my church the order of the candles are hope, peace, joy and love with the center candle being for Christ. It is also said that the four candles each represent 1000 years for the total of 4000 years from the time of Adam and Eve until the birth of the Savior. (Source) In some traditions the first candle is for prophecy or expectation, and the other three can represent Annunciation, Proclamation, Fulfillment or parts of the Christmas story like Bethlehem, Shepherds and Angels. (Source)

http://exploreandexpress-sheila.blogspot.com/2013/12/advent-art-project-simple-advent-wreath.html

There are some variations on the Advent Wreath. For example the Advent wreath above from Sheila at Explore and Express. The use of straw is traditionally a Norwegian style, however Sheila got the idea from a German blog. (She provides a tutorial.)


A Danish variation is to use bread as the wreath. The one pictured above is from Christy at One Fun Mom (she shares the recipe and tutorial).  Advent wreaths also can be hung. Here is one from Germany hanging in a church.

Gedaechtniskirche Speyer Adventskranz.jpg
Gedaechtniskirche Speyer Adventskranz“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Advent Calendars

Diciembre
Advent Calendar By Lumentzaspi (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Advent calendar was originally used to teach children about the Christmas story and Jesus; however, parents quickly realized that it also could be used to help with the child’s behavior leading up to Christmas. Most are now just used as a countdown to Christmas. There are many versions of the Advent Calendar, from store bought ones with pictures behind doors or chocolates to homemade ones. There really are no rules about them besides that they usually begin on December 1st and count down to Christmas Eve. We have a wooden Advent calendar that my parents gave us one year. I believe my mother said it was Scandinavian, but cannot remember for sure.


Other Customs by Country

Germany

Kalenderlys-2-tsca.jpeg

Christmas Calendar Candle Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The use of Advent calendars dates back to the 1800s in Germany. In Southern Germany Advent is the time of Knocking Nights. This is where the children go door to door making much noise and get candy or money as a treat.

Denmark

In Denmark Calendar Candles are popular. These are candles that get burned a certain amount each night until it is finished on Christmas Eve. They often make their own Advent Calendars and they have Advent Calendars or Christmas Calendars as they call them in schools. Some teachers have each child bring a small wrapped package for the Christmas Calendar and then the students get a turn opening a gift one of the days. Nisse decorations come out or are made as well. Nisse are equivalent to Santa Claus’s elves. The entire family also works on cleaning the house and yard as well as stables or barns if they have them. This must be completed by Christmas Eve. (One Source)

Snow lanterns
Snow Lanterns in Helsinki, Finland taken by H. Pellikka (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Finland

In Finland the Advent wreath is at churches and homes. Candles play an important part of the Advent season and often yards have ice or snow lanterns with a candle burning in it. Advent is also a time of Christmas parties at work, groups and friends. (One Source)

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands there is a big parade for Sinterklaas Day, December 6th (St. Nicholas Day). Some sources say this happens on December 5th.  Sinterklaas arrives by boat and then is taken through the streets of a city or town. Then Sinterklaas delivers candies, nuts and treats for to the children in their shoes that they leave out. (One Source)

Sinterklaas-zittend.JPG
Sinterklaas-zittend“. Licensed under
CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia Commons.


Mexico

In Mexico the celebration begins on December 16th. They have a nine-day Las Posadas procession. During Las Posadas a boy and girl are chosen to play Joseph and Mary and they go to houses each night looking for a room. The rest of the procession carries lanterns, candles and often an empty manger. Often the procession sings asking for a room and the people in the house respond in song. A star-shaped pinata is typically broken and then a meal is shared by all. The other Mexican tradition is the Nacimientos which are small often homemade creches. (One Source)

The Philippines

Trio of traditional parols
Traditional Parols By Eugene Alvin Villar (seav) (Self-photographed)[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In the Philippines the season begins on December 16th at 4 a.m. when the church bells ring and the Misa de Gallo begins. The Misa de Gallo is the Mass of the Rooster in Spanish. Some believe this daily early morning mass is a way to show penance. The Philippines has also earned the title of longest celebrated Christmas season. The Christmas carols start in September and last into January. A traditional decoration in The Philippines is a parol which is a star-shaped lantern. Traditionally they are hand-crafted and lit with candles, but now there are also electric ones. (One Source)

Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico a tradition is parrandas. Parrandas is the Puerto Rican form of caroling. Friends gather late at night and go from house to house singing Christmas carols. The singers must wake the homeowner, who has been given hints to be prepared for the singers. At each house they party for a bit and often the homeowner joins the group. (One Source)

Ukraine

In Ukraine the houses must be fully cleaned before Christmas. All the field work and harvest must be done by December 4th, Feast of Presentation (celebrating when Mary was presented at the temple as a child). Many people also partially fast through Advent. (One Source)

Klausjagen-Küssnacht2011
Klausjagen in Switzerland By Matthias Zepper (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Switzerland

In Switzerland a big celebration is on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day. There are processions called Klausjagen from Lake Lucerne. People wear large bishop’s hats lighted with a candle in honor of St. Nicholas. (Source)

This is a sample of some of the different ways  Advent and the pre-Christmas season are celebrated in different lands. Please visit the rest of the blogs hosting Christmas in Different Lands and learn about Christmas traditions around the world!

Additional sources for this post include The World Book Christmas Series (there is a book for each place discussed)and Catholic Online.

 

Crafty Moms ShareCarrie is a former high school math teacher with diversity training and helped advise many diversity clubs at the schools she taught. Now she is a stay-at-home mother of an almost five-year-old and very active with her church. She writes about her life with her daughter and the fun things they do at Crafty Moms Share. You can also find her on Pinterest and Google +.

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