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10 Christmas education traditions from around the world

By Yvette McKenzie | 24 December 2018

Christmas can be a time of learning, and Christmas education traditions are more widespread than you might think! While often thought of as a time to rest, relax and put the work away, there are many ways to learn something new at Christmastime, from new traditions, to different ideas, new skills and talents.

“Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind,” said Calvin Coolidge. “To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

While the silly season can be a great time to job seek, and the New Year can be a great way to unveil a “new you”, here are 10 Christmas education traditions from around the world; learn them, study them, and enjoy the lesson of knowledge this Christmas.

#1: The Christmas Book Flood in Iceland

Have you heard of Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood? In wintery Iceland, families always give books to each other on Christmas Eve, and then plan on spending the night reading. This is great news for the publishing industry over there, which often plans its new releases around this busy time of year. In fact, recently published books are then put out on a list in a yearly compilation volume named bókatíðindi, which translates to "book news". This is then distributed to all households for free; making this a really great Christmas education tradition.

#2: Learn family history in Finland

To some countries, this might sound a little but unusual, but the tradition is very well loved in Finland. Lots of Finnish people will choose to go to a sauna on Christmas Eve, then they will tune in to the popular “Peace of Christmas” radio broadcast which runs nationally. After this, It is customary to visit the gravesites of departed family members, and to teach younger family members about the relatives that have departed. Telling children about their ancestors is a well known, and celebrated Christmas educational experience in Finland.

#3: Writing first letters to Santa in Australia

10 Christmas education traditions from around the world

In Australia, young children will write a letter to Santa from the time they know how to write. Savvy parents will often use this as an opportunity to get young children to practise their handwriting, and to send the letter in the mail to Santa at the North Pole. Australia Post now has a step by step Santa letter writing guide including a downloadable lesson plan, and templates. While some kids know exactly what to write, other children have some funny Santa letter requests.

#4: Counting the 12 days of Christmas with an advent calendar

So, when do the 12 days of Christmas actually start? Well, according to some calendars it shifts around a bit! The date of the First Sunday of Advent changes every year and falls between November 27 and December 3. Advent calendars are used by children to count down the days to Christmas, often they will contain a tiny present or chocolate to open each day, in the lead up to Christmas. This helps children get excited about the impending celebration, and also helps them to learn the numerals leading up to December 25th.

#5: Learning mouth to mouth resuscitation

10 Christmas education traditions from around the world

Every child and adult in Australia should learn lifesaving. Here in Australia, we spend so much of our summertime at the beach that it makes it all the more important. Royal Life Saving Australia runs lifesaving courses all over the country for children and adults. Even though you may not want to spend your Christmas educating yourself about something new, this is really an important skill to have, as it could save a life. “Over one million Australian's undertake a Royal Life Saving course or program every year,” according to their website. “Over 5 million Australians have achieved their Bronze Medallion since its inception.”

#6: Should schools be open on Christmas?

One of the best things about Christmas in many countries is that all children get the day off school! In Australia, Christmas falls in the middle of the summer holidays; the biggest break of the year. Children in the USA and UK get a slightly shorter break. But some parents think that children should have to go to school on Christmas Day! In fact, some parents think that there should be a ban on all religious holidays in public schools; however thankfully this particular Christmas education tradition has not taken hold yet.

#7: Decorating your house with lights for charity

10 Christmas education traditions from around the world

A tradition in many places in the world, in Australia, people love to decorate their homes with Christmas lights? So, how is this educational? Well, for the last couple of decades, Christmas lights enthusiasts have been pouring more and more effort into their projects, and have decided to raise money for charities at the same time, as well as educate people in their neighbourhoods about the charities they support.

#8: New Year’s prediction jar

Well, this could be a “stretch” if you are looking for “real” educational opportunities around Christmastime, but could there be the opportunity to teach yourself something, and educate the “future you” about your deeper wants and desires? Check out this cool tradition of creating a New Year’s prediction jar. How does it work? On Christmas, have your family members write down what they think will happen either in their lives then place them in the jar: during next year's festivities, open the jar and delegate someone to read them aloud.

#9: Cookie baking parties – learn a new recipe

10 Christmas education traditions from around the world

Canada sounds like a really fun place to celebrate Christmas; but it’s cold out there in the Canadian wilderness! For this reason, SkillsTalk has been told that Canadian Christmas baking parties are beginning to take hold. The rules are simple: You bring your own recipe and ask your friends to bring theirs too. “At the end of the party, everybody gets to taste a cookie made from a new recipe,” suggests Campus Life. “You will have enough cookies left over for the entire Christmas season”. Sounds good to us! Learning a new recipe counts as education, right?

#10: Discover a new dessert with Les Treize in France

Yes, Christmas can be a time of learning, but it can also be a time where you try and experience new things. In a traditional Provençal French Christmas, families create 13 separate Christmas desserts to commemorate and symbolise Christ and the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. Each dessert will be slightly different, and might include fruits, nuts and sweets such as dried figs, hazelnuts or walnuts, almonds and dried grapes; or even a traditional cake called the Pompe à l’huile. Everyone at the table must try a bit of each dessert, which symbolises luck for the New Year; a tradition we could all get behind!

What are your Christmas education traditions?

How does your family get together and spend time together at Christmastime? Do you have any unique and unusual traditions that you do every year, that others might find a little weird? Tell us in the comments below.
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