Christmas Around the World
A worldwide party
by Becky May
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To explore the celebration of Christmas around the world.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Christmas Around the World) and the means to display them.
- You will also need a large world map on which to point out the location of Australia, Greece, India, Brazil, Iceland and Egypt. An example is available at: http://ontheworldmap.com/world-map-max.jpg
- Ask the children, ‘What do you enjoy most about celebrating Christmas?’
Listen to a range of responses.
- Point out that Christmas is one of the few festivals or events that is celebrated all over the world. However, each country has different traditions and ways of celebrating. Children in each country will be looking forward to celebrating Christmas, but they will all have very different experiences of it.
- Explain that in this assembly, you are going to concentrate on six countries in particular.
Explain that you are going to show the flags of these countries to the children and you want to see whether they recognize which countries the flags belong to.
Show Slides 1-6.
The countries are Australia, India, Iceland, Brazil, Greece and Egypt.
- Ask the children whether any of them have visited these countries, have lived there or have family living there. Some children may have spent Christmas in these countries.
- Show the world map.
Encourage some volunteers to point out where each country is located.
- Explain that you are going to consider some of the ways in which people in these countries celebrate.
Explain that you are going to read out some information and you want the children to guess which country the information refers to.
- In this country, it’s summer when Christmas is celebrated! Santa swaps his reindeer for six kangaroos, which are known as white boomers. Many families take their holiday over the hot summertime and often enjoy a barbecue on the beach on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. (Australia)
- In this country, Christmas is a smaller festival celebrated by Christians because there are many members of other faiths living here. Families often decorate a banana tree or a mango tree, and Christians put small oil lamps on their flat roofs to show their neighbours that Jesus is the light of the world. (India)
- In this country, celebrations start at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, which is called Yule Eve. Any presents are opened that evening, after tea. (Iceland)
- In this country, after midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, there are large firework displays and huge, illuminated Christmas-tree-shaped displays. Families usually share their Christmas dinner at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. (Brazil)
- In this country, children go out on Christmas Eve, singing carols and playing drums and triangles. They often carry models of boats with them, too. If they sing well, they may be given money, nuts and sweets. (Greece)
- In this country, Christmas is not celebrated on 25 December, but on 7 January. For 43 days beforehand, Christians follow the Nativity Fast, eating only vegan food, which is food that doesn’t contain anything that has come from an animal. The Christians in this country break their fast on 7 January with a great feast. (Egypt)
- Ask the children which of these ways of celebrating Christmas sounds the most exciting to them.
Listen to a range of responses.
- Ask the children if any of them have celebrated Christmas in a different country. If they have, ask them to share their experiences.
Time for reflection
Isn’t it amazing that so many different countries of the world all celebrate Christmas? We all have different traditions - things that have grown up over time - but we can all enjoy this special time of year.
It’s incredible that the birth of a baby in a small town over 2,000 years ago is still celebrated all over the world today. In the Bible (John 3.16), it says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ The gift of the baby Jesus wasn’t just for his family, or for the town where he was born, but God’s gift for the whole world. And that really is a reason for us all to celebrate!
Thank you for your gift to the whole world.
Thank you that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and that his story has spread all around the world.
Thank you for the Christmas celebrations that we can enjoy.
Thank you for time with our families, for decorations and for special food and gifts.
Any appropriate Christmas song or carol.