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Mother Christmas (Babouska)

To share a Christmas legend from another country and think about what it has to say to us.

by The Revd Catherine Williams

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To share a Christmas legend from another country and think about what it has to say to us.

Preparation and Materials

  • OHT of the Nativity (optional).
  • The story can simply be told by you or enacted by children playing the parts of the kings and Babouska.
  • If enacted you will need: a headscarf and apron; three crowns; three gifts; a broom, dustpan and brush, dusters, etc.; a large number of small boxes wrapped as gifts.

Assembly

  1. Ask the children to raise their hands if they (or anyone they know) are hoping Father Christmas will come this year. Adapt this question to the age of the children! Say that if they lived in Russia they wouldn’t be expecting Father Christmas, but ‘Mother Christmas’ instead. Mother Christmas is called Babouska in Russian.
  2. Tell the following legend. Choose a girl to play Babouska, dressed in a headscarf and apron, and three children to play the three wise men, wearing crowns and carrying gifts. Ask the children to act out the story as you tell it.

    One day a woman called Babouska was cleaning her house. She was very house-proud and worked hard to make her little house shiny as a new pin. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and three men wearing crowns stood on the doorstep. They asked for a drink.

    Babouska gave them something to drink and asked the men where they were going. They said they were being led by a special star and were on their way to find a new baby king who would be the most important king ever. They showed Babouska the gifts they had brought for the baby.

    One of the kings asked Babouska: ‘Would you like to come too?’

    ‘Oh yes,’ said Babouska, ‘but I must clean my house first.’

    The kings said they must leave at once, but Babouska could try and catch them up. Babouska set to work cleaning her house from top to bottom. She swept the floor, cleaned the windows and tidied up. Then she got together a large bag of presents to take to the baby king. Then she set off.

    Meanwhile the kings had found the baby, with Mary and Joseph in a stable. (Put up the OHT – the kings can place their gifts on the floor.)

    They gave him their gifts and bowed down and worshipped him. (Take down the OHT and the kings can sit down.)

    But Babouska had been so busy that when she set off she couldn’t find the kings or the baby at all. (Send Babouska several times round the hall, looking.)

    Babouska sat down and began to cry. ‘I shall never find the baby king now – what shall I do with all these presents?’ Then she had a bright idea: ‘I know,’ she said, ‘I’ll give them to all the children I meet on my way back home.’

    And that’s why children in Russia believe that their presents come from Mother Christmas.
  3. Make the point that in all the busyness of Christmas, Christians make time to give thanks for Jesus – the special king whose birthday we are celebrating.

Time for reflection

Put up the OHT of the Nativity again. Ask the children to look at it in silence for a few minutes.
If you don’t have the OHT ask the children to sit in silence for a few moments to think about the story.

Prayer

Dear God,
We thank you for Christmas.
Though we are very excited about receiving presents,
help us to remember that the greatest gift of all
is the gift of Jesus.
Amen.

Song / Music

‘Baboushka’ (Come and Praise, 115)

Publication date: 2004
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