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Christmas everywhere!

To show that Christmas is celebrated all over the world in many different ways.

by Rebecca Parkinson

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To show that Christmas is celebrated all over the world in many different ways.

Preparation and materials

  • Map of the world, preferably without the names of the continents and countries (see http://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/pdf/world_cont.pdf)

  • Seven pieces of card with the names of the seven continents written on them, one continent on each card.
  • Seven pieces of card with ‘Happy Christmas’ in different languages written on them, one on each card. (If there are children in the school for whom English is not the first language, involve them in the assembly by asking them how to say ‘Happy Christmas’ in their language, using cards with these words written on as part of the assembly.)
  • Seven pieces of card on which you’ve written the names of the countries where the above greetings are spoken, again one on each card.

    For instance (see also section 6 below):

    North America USA Happy Christmas
    South America Brazil Feliz Natal
    Europe France Joyeux Noel
    Africa Ethiopia Melkin Yelidet Beaal
    Asia Philippines Maligayang Pasko
    Oceania Australia Happy Christmas
    Antarctica Antarctica Felices Pasquas
                     
  • (Optional) Listen to Christmas greetings from different countries (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz6e6wupG8s or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwZSvwNRrRE

Assembly

  1. Show the children the map of the world and ask if anyone can name the continents. If they can, ask them to come forward and place the continent name cards in the correct positions on the map.
  2. Ask the children if any of them are excited about Christmas and explain that at this time children in every continent look forward to Christmas.

    Ask the children to tell you about their favourite parts of Christmas. (Children whose religion doesn’t specifically celebrate Christmas often have something they particularly enjoy about Christmas – brightly lit trees, family times, school holidays.)
  3. Show the seven cards with the names of different countries written on them. Ask children to place each of the countries on the correct continent.
  4. Show the children the seven pieces of card with ‘Happy Christmas’ in different languages written on them. Ask the children to try to say the words. If there are children in the school who speak these (or other) languages, ask them to help with the correct pronunciation.
  5. Ask the children to match the Christmas greetings to the country where they think the greeting is given.
  6. Explain that, as the map shows, children all over the world enjoy celebrating the birthday of Jesus. Below is one special thing that the children do in each of the named countries.

    Washington (USA)
    In Washington there are many displays of Christmas lights. A huge Christmas tree is lit in a special ceremony. The President of the United States presses the button to switch the lights on.

    Brazil
    Many people create nativity scenes, which are called Presépio. These are made of straw and are set up in churches, homes, shops and so on. The aim is to remind everyone of the true meaning of Christmas.

    France
    In France children place their shoes, rather than stockings, in front of the fire. Traditionally, French families have a chocolate log to eat rather than a fruit Christmas cake!

    Ethiopia
    In Ethiopia there are many old churches carved out of volcanic rock. Modern churches are built in three concentric circles. As the people enter the church on Christmas morning they are given a candle to carry. The priest stays in the inner circle to hand out the bread or ‘wafers’ that are part of the Communion service/the Eucharist; the people stand in the middle circle with men and boys separate from women and girls. The choir stands in the outer circle – the congregation is thus surrounded by singing!

    Philippines
    The Philippines has gained a reputation for celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season! Christmas carols are sung as early as September and the season continues until Epiphany on 6 January.

    Australia
    The weather is always hot in December! On Christmas Day many people (especially tourists) have their Christmas dinner on a beach! Bondi Beach in Sydney attracts thousands of people. The children swim in the sea and play cricket.

    Antarctica

    There are 24 hours of daylight on Christmas day! Most people who live in Antarctica are scientists who are there to carry out some kind of research. For many, Christmas can be a bit sad as they have left their families at home. However, as there are people from many different countries, Christmas tends to combine lots of different traditions. There is always a Christmas meal and a party at night.

  7. Remind the children that Christmas unites us with others all over the world who also celebrate the birth of Jesus.

    You may like to end the assembly by showing the children Christmas greetings from all over the world (see ‘Preparation and materials’).

Time for reflection

Think of the things that you like to do at Christmas time.

(Pause)

Now take a moment to remember people all over the world: some will be rich, some poor; some will be old, some young; some will live in beautiful homes while some will have very few possessions. However, Christmas can be special to all of them because the true meaning of Christmas is the same in all countries – the birth of the baby Jesus.

Prayer
Dear God,
thank you for Christmas
and the reminder that people all over the world rejoice in your gift of Jesus.
Thank you that you care for all children in all countries.
Please help us to remember those who this Christmas
have so much less than us.
Amen.

Song/music

Choose one of your school’s favourite carols.

Publication date: December 2011   (Vol.13 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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