Christmas is definitely the most wonderful time of the year! At Little Zak’s Academy, we do our best to introduce our children to various traditions from around the world. Here are some of the ones we can’t wait to try at our child care centres across Sydney.
It is customary in Brazil to have a “presepio” (a crib or nativity scene) in front of churches. The “Papai Noel,” or Father Christmas, travels from Greenland to Brazil to deliver presents BOTH on Christmas Eve and the Feast of the Magi. And Papai Noel knows how to travel in style! Instead of the outdated sleigh, his chosen form of transportation is via helicopter!
The Swedish begin their Christmas celebrations on 13 December, St. Lucia’s Day (also known as the patron saint of light). The eldest daughter gets up before dawn and dresses as the “Queen of Light” in a long white dress with a crown of leaves and candles. She wakes each member of the family up by serving them coffee and treats while singing “Santa Lucia.”
Instead of gifts, Icelanders exchange books on Christmas Eve! They spend the next day all snuggled up in bed sipping on hot chocolate. This tradition, called Jolabokaflod, or “The Christmas Book Flood” is the main reason Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world.
On Christmas Day, Lebanese children come up to any adult and say “Editi ‘aleik!” (You have a gift for me!”) If the adult has any gifts left to give, the children can add it to their Christmas pile.
Food is an important part of Spanish Christmases. Every 6 January, during the celebration of Día de reyes (Kings’ Day), they prepare a special sweet bread ring called Roscón de Reyes. This Yuletide cake is topped with crushed almonds, candied fruits, and powdered sugar. Hidden inside the roscón is either a mini figurine of Jesus or a dry fava bean (to represent him). Whoever finds it gets to buy the following year’s roscón!
The Japanese are usually one of the healthiest eaters out there… except on Christmas! They typically spend Christmas eating a bucket of KFC (which they have to pre-order up to a month in advance!)
Christmas is a huge affair in Mexico. They spend the Christmas season (12 December to 6 January) shopping for gifts, ornaments and food in market stalls called “puestos,” and decorating their homes with evergreen and lilies. Families get together to cut intricate designs in brown paper bags to make lanterns or “farolitos.” The farolitos are finished with a candle lit inside it and set-up to illuminate the sidewalk, windowsills and even rooftops of the community!
Little Zak’s Academy is always on the lookout for new Christmas traditions to introduce to our children. Let us know if you have any Christmas traditions by sharing them with us on Facebook!