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Auld Lang Syne

Written by Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne has been around since 1788, as a Scottish poem that was soon turned into song. Chunks of it were a good deal older than this!


 Translated, it is Old Long Since, meaning Old Times or even Once Upon a Time. When we sing "For Auld Lang Syne", we're saying, "For old time's sake."



 If you've ever wondered why on earth people sing about forgetting their friends every New Year, you'll be happy to know that the first verse of the song is actually a question: Should old acquaintance be forgot? and the chorus explains why that would be a terrible idea.
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a wearyfoot,
since auld lang syne.



We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.



Day 12

Thursday, the 12th Day of Advent

Advent Verses

Psalm 34:20 tells us that His bones will not be broken.  John 19:36-38 confirms that none of His bones were broken, though the men beside Him had their legs broken  to speed their deaths.

Jesse Tree

Our verse today is Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other gods before Me."  This easy-to-remember verse quickly calls to mind the exodus story and the Ten Commandments.
For a drawn ornament, a sketch of the ten commandment tablet works well.  For a homemade ornament, you might search for a tiny frog toy from around the house to recall the Egypt plagues.

To Explore

Gingerbread! Yummy and whimsical, gingerbread has shown up in various children's tales for many years.  Gingerbread gets its name from that all-important ingredient: Ginger!  You can purchase a nub of ginger root at most grocery stores very cheaply. It has a strong, distinct flavor and a definite spice!  Most of our baking incorporates powdered ginger rather than fresh ginger root.  For fun background on this interesting spice/root, visit - http://www.annieshomepage.com/gingerbread.html

Christmas Around the World

Bethlehem (which is also the name of our candle this week,) is also known as the House of Bread.  From this city, came the Bread of Life.
Bethelehem sees many processions and services at Christmas of various Christian denominations and celebrations last from December 24th until January 18th as it is celebrated differently and at different times by different denominations.

The Church of the Nativity is a famous site in Bethlehem and is built over the cave that is said to be the traditional location of the birth of Christ.

For more information, visit -
http://www.worldofchristmas.net/christmas-world/holy-land.html


Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)

Let's make Gingerbread houses!  My family has yet to be ambitious enough to put together an authentic gingerbread house, but we have made knock-off versions with graham crackers, canned frosting, and bagged candies.  No one wanted to eat them afterwards, but they were fun to assemble!  There are many kits available for the real thing and recipes for homemade gingerbread online.

Gingerbread Lapbook

Sandpaper Gingerbread Man

Easy-sew felt gingerbread man

Yum! I just tried my first Gingerbread Cake today

Non-edible, recycled Gingerbread house
and another: http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/faux-gingerbread-house-671455/

Jan Brett Coloring Page - http://www.janbrett.com/pdf/gf_mural_gingerbread_house.pdf


Music

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem - http://www.carols.org.uk/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.htm

Books






Games

http://www.gamegarage.co.uk/play/christmas/

Movies



Day 11

Wednesday, the 11th day of Advent

Advent Verses

Isaiah 53:5 tells us He will be pierced for our transgessions and that by His wounds we are healed.  1 Peter 2:24 echos that we are healed by His wounds.  John 19:34 describes some of the piercing He endured.

Jesse Tree

Exodus 12:14

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD—a lasting ordinance."

Today's ornament is a lamb, to represent the sacrificial lamb of the passover meal. It is a beautiful time for a discussion of the foreshadowing of Christ as our the final sacrifice for our sins. You can draw a lamb and glue tufts of cotton balls to your lamb for dimension and texture.

To Explore

Snowflakes!  Fascinating and fun, there is much to explore.

Snowflakes were first photographed by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley.  Two wonderful books that tell his story -


For beautiful, amazing photographs of snowflakes you will be amazed by these -
  

Need to skip the books and get straight to the facts? Visit the Bentley Snow Crystal Foundation

Why six sides?  This is a question that has existed for centuries!  I was very impressed with the chapter on snow in the book Rainbows, snowflakes, and quarks by Von Baeyer, worth borrowing from library inter-loan if you're able.

This gave a humorous account of Kepler's fascination with the shape of the snowflake and acknowledged the beauty of God's hand in the details of the design of the world around us.

For an easier answer for the six sides, visit these sites:

Christmas Around the World

Let's learn about China!

It is in China that we find the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains.  A legend about this mountain goes like this:
Once upon a time there were two mountain twins: Jade Dragon and Haba.  The brothers lived on panning in the Golden Sand River until an evil fiend usurped the river and the brothers bravely fought against him.  Jade Dragon wore out 13 swords in the battle, driving away the fiend...but not before Haba died in the struggle.  Jade Dragon continued to hold the 13 swords day and night to protect the people from future attack.  Over time, the two brothers became mountains and the 13 swords became 13 peaks.
For more information on these peaks, including photographs, you can visit here. Parents, be aware that it refers to old earth views.

Christians barely comprise even one percent of the population of China.  This is a matter to take to heart in our studies today.  Pray for China today.  Missionaries are banned and Christians are sporadically persecuted.  For more information on Christianity and China, visit http://www.chinaaid.org/qry/page.taf

Because so few are Christian,  few citizens celebrate Christmas. Ironically, many Christmas decorations are made in China, though the factory workers quite possibly do not know what the items are for.  Those who celebrate Christmas decorate with beautiful paper lanterns, lighting their houses and, less frequently, Christmas trees which they call Trees of Light.  The Chines version of Santa Claus is known as Dun Che Lao Ren.  The main winter festival in China is the Chinese New Year which does not take place until the end of January.  The celebration is officially known as the Spring Festival and resembles our Christmas holiday parties including gift giving, visiting, and feasting.  Fireworks are often seen.  An aspect of the Chinese New Year that is very important to many Chinese people is the worship of ancestors, making it vastly different from our celebrations as Christians.

Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)

Create a Chinese paper lantern 

Catch a snowflake!
We often save our Snowflake Unit Study for a day when it snows so that we can see them up close and personal.  Leave black construction paper outside in a covered, but cold place where you can easily grab it.  When the snow starts to fall, hold a black sheet of paper out to catch the flakes.  Dress warmly and be careful not to touch them or breath on them.  It is amazing how much detail you can see!  We take white crayons with us and try to sketch the pattern we see before they melt.  Though we are rarely succesful, it is fun to try!

My family loves to cut snowflakes out of coffee filters.  We starch and iron them and hang them from the ceiling with white thread.  You can also brush on some regular glue and sprinkle with white glitter for an extra special effect.  For other snowflake crafts visit here.


Snowflake Snack - Warm a flour tortilla in the microwave or steam it for a few seconds to soften it and then fold to cut snowflake shapes into the tortilla with clean scissors.  Fry in oil briefly and then dust with powdered sugar. This is a favorite treat for my kiddos on "Snow Day".


Music


Books

This first one is excellent for teaching about the water cycle. We stopped to create a lapbook on the topic this year:


 

 

Games

Movies



Day 10

Tuesday, the 10th day of Advent


Advent Reading
Isaiah 9:6-7 tells us that Mighty God, Everlasting Father will be born as a boy-child in the line of David.
John 1:1-3, and 14 tell us that the Word was God and the Word became flesh. Luke 3:23-38 gives His lineage.

Jesse Tree

"Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other.

Genesis 37:19 is an easy verse to memorize that quickly recalls the story of Joseph. 

For today's ornament, draw a tunic/coat and let children decorate it to resemble a 'coat of many colors'.  To make an ornament, find colorful fabric to cut and fold into the shape of a coat. 

I can't recommend this site highly enough for easy to understand Jesse Tree devotions for children.

To Explore

Christmas Ornaments

The earliest known Christmas ornaments came from Scandinavia and they came in the form of stars, angels, etc. fashioned out of straw.  The first known ornaments placed on evergreen trees were fruit, as the trees were used on the feast day of Adam and Eve.  They were known as Paradise trees and represented both a tree of sin and a tree of life.  Eventually, decorations included fruits and nuts and then other foods such as berries and cookies.  Paper ornaments developed and became quite intricate.  Ornaments were not created commercially until the 1800's.  Glass ornaments orginated in Lauscha, Germany.  F.W. Woolworth imported these ornaments into the U.S. in the 1890's.  Dresden, Germany gained notoriety for their embossed paper ornaments. 
Pickle Ornaments began as a fun game that rewarded the most observant child.  Whichever child finds the pickle ornament first gets a special gift from St. Nick.  Though the majority of pickle ornaments come from Lauscha, it isn't a common German tradition and no one seems to know for sure how the tradition began.

Christmas Around the World

There are so many wonderful traditions that come from Germany, they really deserve another day to explore.
To read more about Christmas in Germany, visit:

To wish a Merry Christmas in German, shout "Frohe Weihnacht!"



Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)
String cranberries and/or popcorn!

Slice oranges thinly, dehydrate them (or bake low and slow on parchment,) and string with cinnamon sticks for a nice homemade ornament.




Paint stray puzzle pieces green and glue them into a wreath shape.  Dot on some red paint for holly berries.  Tie your puzzle wreath up with a ribbon to hang from the tree.

My family's favorite homemade decorations yet are the paper star ornaments that we purchased last year from Hobby Lobby for about $.50 apiece. We all sat down at the table together with a stack of magazines and cut out our favorite pictures and designs to mod-podge onto our stars. Everyone ended up with ornaments that reflected our personalities. For example, my youngest covered hers in ladybugs, one son covered his in pictures of candy, and my computer-tech husband covered his in pictures of computer parts from his computer magazines. I used Gooseberry Patch catalogs to cut out old Christmas card drawings. True keepsakes!

Music


Books

A beautiful children's story by Frank Peretti, though set in July and not Christmas

Christmas Ornaments Kids Can Make

Make Your Own Christmas Ornaments

Games


Movies

Today's movie suggestion has nothing to do with Germany nor Ornaments, but it is still my family's favorite - Elf!



Day 9

Monday, the 9th day of Advent


Advent Verses

Zechariah 9:9 tells us the King will come, riding on a donkey.   Matthew 21:4-9 confirms that it happend just so.


Jesse Tree

I need to apologize. I am giving more verses and ornaments than my family actually uses, in case some of you like to do Jesse Tree on Saturdays or sooner than December 1st. I accidentally gave you some verses out of order. Last week, I gave you Jacob's verse before I gave you Isaac's verse! If you have already done this portion, you can look back to Saturday's Jesse Tree to pick up Isaac's verse (a really good one!) I'm sorry for the confusion!

Today's verse tells of Jacob's name being changed to Israel:

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." - Genesis 32:28

That's a lot of story to sum up with our children, but very interesting!  A simple drawing of a ladder makes a nice ornament for today.  If you are making ornaments, today would be a fun day for children to tie or glue a small ladder out of sticks or toothpicks.


To Explore

Santa Claus! My family doesn't do "the Santa thing", but this figure has a rich history worth learning.  Originally known as Nicholas of Myra (where he became a bishop,) he is now associated with many names and legends.  Born in present day Turkey, he was raised in the Christian faith by wealthy parents who died while he was still a youth.  He used his inheritance to assist those in need, dedicating his life to serving God.  The anniversary of his death is celebrated on December 6th as St. Nicholas Day. 

Twas the Night Before Christmas is a poem that was written by Clement C. Moore as a present for his children.  It was published in a newspaper and became instantly popular.  This poem has been a key influence on the Santa Claus figure many children adore.  His shape, color, and expressions that we all think of when we see Santa all originated with this poem.  The names of his reindeer, his use of a sleigh, all give a hat tip to Mr. Clement C. Moore.  A beautiful version to read is a 1912 version with illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith, though there are many other delightful versions available.  The JWS version is available free, online here.

Sinterklaas and His Helper is a book prior to the Clement C. Moore tale.  It spoke of St. Nicholas bringing presents down the chimney, but had him riding rooftops on a white horse after travelling by steamboat from Spain.  The St. Nicholas Day Song, still sung by Dutch children sings of this.  The lyrics are found here.

To read about the legends associated with St. Nicholas, see here.


Christmas Around the World

Our English name of Santa Claus derived from a version of the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas: Sinterklaas.  The Feast of Sinterklaas is a distinctly Dutch tradition.  What a perfect time to celebrate Holland!

To read how Saint Nicholas is received in the Netherlands, visit here.

Some Dutch traditions are a tad ornery, but in their gift giving, they emphasize the unique efforts that go into giving the presents and not on the monetary value of the presents.  This is certainly to be admired. 

A distinctly different addition to the Santa Claus story can be found in the Netherlands celebration of a character known as Zwarte Piete.  Parents might want to use caution in investigating this part of the story.  Some images shown in search engines are frightening and others, quite racist.  For an explanation, see here.

In Dutch, Happy Christmas is said as "Prettige Kerstfeest!" 


Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)

One Dutch tradition is sharing uniquely disguised presents and requiring an elaborate hunt for them.  What a fun day to have a scavenger hunt!  Surprise a family member today by placing a note for them by their plate or some other conspicuous location which leads them to another note, leading them to yet another note.  Eventually, the clues should lead them to a prize.  Clues can be drawn pictures for younger children or more complicated riddles for older children.  "Brrrrr, it's cold in here!" could lead to an envelope in the freezer .  "You're so sweet, much like the bowl I'm hiding in" could lead to the sugar canister.  Visit here for more (and better) ideas.

Poems are very popular this time of year in Holland; try your hand at writing poems today!

Letters made from chocolate are very popular in Holland.  If you are feeling ambitious, try melting almond bark into alphabet letter forms for the initials of the recipients' names. 

Try your hand at Dutch Donuts, known as Oliebollen.

Though often used to refer to the Netherlands, Holland is actually just one small part of the Netherlands.  For more background information, visit here.  Label a map here.


Make a hand-print Santa! 


Music

Up on the Housetop, lyrics found here.






Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, lyrics found here.




Books


Rich with history, but probably more appreciated by adults -


Fun tale of the Baker's Dozen -




Games


Movies

The Santa Clause -

Miracle on 34th Street -
     

Miracle on 34th Street (updated, free version)
 

Veggie Tales (We love this one!)



.


Day 8


Day 8, the second Sunday of Advent


Advent Verses

The second week of Advent begins today, and for me, there is a change in the air.  Last week introduced an anticipation and hope that held such excitement! This week issues in a sweet reverence.  Our candle this week is also traditionally purple as a color representing repentence.  It is called the Bethlehem candle to remind us of the place God had prepared for Christ.  Five hundred years before His birth, God was already sharing the location plans for the birth of our Saviour.  He prepared a place for Joseph and Mary.  Through John the Baptist He led men to prepare the way of the Lord. This is traditionally a week of preparation.

Another name for this Candle is the Peace Candle.  Our peace was purchased at a price.  Our dear Saviour gave much that we might have peace with God.  Isaiah 9:6 calls Him our Prince of Peace.   Most of our verses this week will speak of the price He paid; the price foretold long before it happened.

But today's verse is Micah 5:2, which told us He would be born in Bethlehem; specifically, the Bethlehem of Judea.  There were several villages in Palestine that shared the name Bethlehem, but God left no room for confusion here.  Matthew 2:1 confirms this birthplace.


Jesse Tree

Today's verse tells of Jacob's name being changed to Israel:

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." - Genesis 32:28

That's a lot of story to sum up with our children, but very interesting!  A simple drawing of a ladder makes a nice ornament for today.  If you are making ornaments, today would be a fun day for children to tie or glue a small ladder out of sticks or toothpicks.


No studies for today but we can't wait to start again tomorrow!



Day 7

Saturday, the 7th day of Advent

Advent Verses

Genesis 12:1-3 & 22:18 describes a promise to Abraham.
Matthew 1:1 & Galatians 3:16  confirm and expound.

To Explore

Bells!

It seems we see them all over during this season.  Why during Christmas?  Bells have been around for thousands of years as a way to announce occasions.  They rang to mark joyous occasions.  They rang to mark unhappy occasions.  They rang to warn of impending danger.  They rang to call commuties to gather.  They are rung during Christmas to announce the celebration of Christ's birth. 

Christmas Around the World

Hungary!
Hungarians enjoy celebrating Christmas twice! Once on Dec. 6th for St. Nicholas' Day and the second on Christmas Eve.  Hungarian children enjoy a Christmas tree, too, but they do not participate in the decorating.  In fact, they do not see the tree until Christmas Eve.  After supper, children are told not to enter the room, but to listen for the angels.  When the angels are finished decorating the tree, they ring a bell announcing to the children that they are leaving and that it is safe to come in.  After presents are exchanged, many families attend a midnight mass.  The next day, Christmas Day, is set aside for visiting with family. 

Hungarian cooking - http://www.hungarotips.com/ch/cook.html

To wish a Merry Christmas in Hungary, try saying "Yokararácsony!"

Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)

Jingle Bell Ornaments -
http://www.crafts-for-all-seasons.com/jingle-bell-snowman.html
http://crafts.kaboose.com/jingle-bells-ornament.html

Coloring Page - http://www.abcteach.com/free/j/jinglebells_m.pdf

For a jingle bell activity, nothing can beat turning up the volume to Jingle Bell Rock and dancing around the house together.

For a rhythm game, pass a bell from player to player as each participant sings only one syllable of the song "Jingle Bells".  One person would get to sing "Oh", another sings "what", and yet another sings "fun" and so forth until you've finished the song...."it is to ride in a one horse o-pen sleigh, hey!"  But you can't sing your syllable until the bell has been handed to you, creating a fun and interesting sounding song.


Music

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
This song was originallya poem, written in 1864 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The tune was added in 1872 by John Baptiste Calkin.  Two stanzas were omitted in the final song because they referenced the Civil War.  The original poem: http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Poetry/christmas_bells.htm

Books


Games

http://freeonlinegames.com/adventure-games/go-santa.html

Movies

The Bells of St. Mary's



I have one other subtle link to tie in bells and Hungary.  Trace the link with me, starting with the famous line from It's a Wonderful Life, that says "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings."  The main character in that movie, Jimmy Stewart, was also the main character in another of my favorite Christmas movies: The Shop Around the Corner, which takes place in Budapest. How's that for a link?



Day 6


Friday, the 6th day of Advent


Advent Verse


Psalm 110:1 tells us He would sit down at the right hand of God.  This is mirrored in the New Testmanent in Hebrews 1:3.

Jesse Tree

Today's verse is a little longer, adding some challenge to our memorization:

"I will make you into a great nation
       and I will bless you;
       I will make your name great,
       and you will be a blessing."

-Genesis 12:2

Our story continues on to Abraham, still Abram at the promise in these verses.

A drawing of a tent is a fitting ornament for today, as Abram was called away from his home and family to follow the Lord as a wanderer.  A homemade ornament could be a tent cut out of brown felt with a toothpick glued on for tent-posts.

To Explore

Christmas Trees!

Though originally rooted in paganism (pun intended), the Christmas tree often plays an integral part of Christian holiday celebrations.  The fir tree is first known to have come indoors in Scandinavia during the dark ages.  In the midst of freezing, dark winters, the fir tree stood with marked contrast to its stark surroundings.  Vikings found encouragement in this hardy tree.  The evergreen was a popular symbol for many pagan cultures.

A legend about St. Boniface tells how the evergreen began to be associated with Christianity - http://www.essortment.com/all/historychristma_rfra.htm  The tradition spread throughout Christendom and it became tradition to hang an evergreen from the ceiling each winter.  However, the tree was still not associated with Christmas.
The first recording of the tree being used for Christmas celebrations didn't occur until 1510 in Latvia.  You can read more about that history here -  http://www.firstchristmastree.com/
Another legend says that it was Martin Luther who influenced our current celebrations of the Christmas tree. http://christmas.howstuffworks.com/stories/christmas-tree-stories2.htm
For a brief run-down of the development of the Christmas tree, you'll enjoy this site - http://www.christmasarchives.com/trees.html

Christmas Around the World

Latvia - http://www.latviatourism.lv/info.php
Christmas feasting in Latvia - http://www.eat-online.net/english/habits/christmas/christmas_latvia.htm

To wish a merry Christmas in Latvia, you would say "Priecïgus Ziemassvºtkus".

Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)

Ice Cream Cone Christmas Trees (my kids LOVE this one) -
To make, add green food coloring to white frosting and smear over sugar cones.  Let kids decorate with ice cream sprinkles and cupcake decor or mini m&m's.  Take a picture because this craft will be gobbled up quickly!

Handprint Christmas Tree -
Dip child's palm in green paint and then upside down on paper or fabric.  Make a row of 4 handprints, then 3, then 2.  For the top, use yellow paint on the child's other hand, or draw on a star.  Thumb prints dipped in red paint make great "tree" decorations.  Using fabric paint on a sweatshirt makes a great gift for grandparents.

Let the littles decorate their own felt Christmas trees, again and again -
http://www.rufflesandstuff.com/2009/12/im-dreaming-of-pink-christmas.html

Color a Christmas tree and then add glitter glue ornaments - http://www.supercoloring.com/image_print.php?img_src=http://www.supercoloring.com/wp-content/original/2008_12/christmas-tree-coloring-page.gif

Part of the St. Boniface legend included his use of the triangular shape of the evergreen tree to explain the trinity.  Here is an excellent math lesson lapbook on triangles -
http://xinpeifamily.blogspot.com/2009/09/triangle-lapbook.html

Latvian Recipes - http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2308551/recipes_for_christmas_dinner_in_latvia.html?cat=22


Music

O Tannenbaum, also sung as O Christmas Tree - http://www.fashion-era.com/Christmas/christmas_customs_tree_history.htm#O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum)

Books

Read FREE online, Hans Christian Andersen's tale: The Fir Tree -

   

The first book on this list makes me cry every time.  The last makes me laugh every time.  All of them are good, but these two are our favorites.

Games

Decorate the Tree

Trim the Tree

Another Decorate the Tree (has annoying music; be warned)

And Another

Movies

A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965:




Day 5

Thursday, the 5th day of Advent

Advent Verses

Psalm 16:10 tells us He would rise from the dead and both Mark 16:6 and Acts 2:31 tell us it happened just as foretold.


Jesse Tree

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  - Genesis 9:13

Today we continue with our discussion of sin entering the world and go on to the Flood.  This can be a difficult discussion, but I appreciate today's words from RCA's devotional page - "Even in a sinful world, God still loves us and keeps His promises."  This is a simple, beautiful truth that our children can grasp.

A drawing of a rainbow is a nice ornament for today's verse.  If you are creating your own ornaments, you might enjoy painting a window sun-catcher.  These are usually easy to find and rainbows are a popular design for them.



To Explore

Christmas Cards!
The very first Christmas card originated in England and was sent in 1843.  It was the idea of Sir Henry Cole, who wanted to send greetings and well wishes to friends and family that included an encouragement to care for those in need.  Rather than hand-write so many letters, he commissioned designer John Calcott Horsley to have them printed. 




You can see in this image of the first Christmas Card a happy family toasting to the season.  In the side panels, they are reaching out to those less fortunate with food and clothing. 

Christmas cards soon became a popular custom.  Popular artists included Kate Greenaway, Frances Brundage, and Ellen H. Clapsaddle.  An internet image search for these names reveals beautiful, intricate cards.  The custom was not seen in the United States until 1845.  For 30 years, Americans imported their cards from Europe.  In 1875, the first line of Christmas Cards was published in U.S. by Louis Prang, a German immigrant. 

To view a beautiful gallery of Christmas card images, visit http://www.emotionscards.com/museum/xmas.html

Christmas Around the World

England!

England has a rich Christmas history, including being the birthplace of Christmas cards.  It is also where we derived our custom of singing Christmas Carols to friends and neighbors, originally known as "Wassailing".  Wassailing had a very different beginning than what it is today but we'll get to that another day. 

The mistletoe originated with the Romans as a symbol of peace.  Enemies that met under the mistletoe set aside their weapons for a temporary truce.  This developed into our custom of kissing under the mistletoe and was first seen as part of the Christmas season in England.

Christmas traditions in the UK are very similar to what is celebrated in the US, with a few exceptions. British children enjoy pulling Christmas crackers found on their plates on Christmas Day.  Crackers are bright paper tubes, twisted at the ends. Children help each other pull on the ends which causes a loud pop or "crack" and reveals the contents of the tubes, usually riddles, trinket toys, and confetti.  Many also contain a party hat that must be worn for the meal. 

Pantomimes are a popular Christmas Eve activity.  You can read about their development here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantomime   Another British tradition is listening to the Queen's Christmas Message, broadcast on Christmas afternoon via radio and television.

The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day and is considered a public holiday in the UK.  It is customary to give gifts to tradesmen you encounter on this day, often celebrated now through tipping the postman, trash pick-up, etc. It is also a popular day to raise money for charity.

To celebrate old-style, see http://www.christmasarchives.com/how2english.html

To share Christmas greetings in England, you'll blend in better if you say "Happy Christmas" rather than the American "Merry Christmas".

Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)

In all honesty, my family enjoys taking several days to celebrate today's theme.  There are so many things to do, this unit can easily fill a week!

Christmas Crackers are a fun craft project. 
http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf78360388.tip.html
http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-make-christmas-crackers
http://www.oldenglishcrackers.com/make-your-own-crackers.htm

Christmas Pudding is a distinctly English Christmas fare - http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Christmas-Plum-Pudding/Detail.aspx

My entire family looks forward to our afternoon of making homemade Christmas cards.   Our favorite cards don't contain any drawings but instead use only construction paper, scissors, and glue.   It is challenging to make tiny details without coloring anything, but we all enjoy cutting out those little touches, such as whiskers for kittens and even curling steam for cut-outs of hot cocoa.  Give it a try!

Some other Christmas card ideas -
http://familyfun.go.com/christmas/christmas-gifts-cards-decorations/christmas-cards/
http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/homemade_Christmas_cards.htm
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/christmas/treecard/
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Christmas-Tree-Pop-up-Card-(Robert-Sabuda-Method)

Music

A traditional English Christmas song is "I Saw Three Ships". One version is found here: http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/i_saw_three_ships.htm

Books



Games

http://www.fupa.com/swf/sinta-clause/SintaClause.swf

Movies

A Christmas Carol is a classic British Christmas movie, though my favorite version is quite American -



Grown-ups might appreciate some British humor, though the following may not be appropriate for children -