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A Traditional Christmas?

A light-hearted look at Christmas

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

Provides a light-hearted look at some Christmas traditions and considers the significance of Jesus’ birth.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (A Traditional Christmas) and the means to display them.

  • Have available the YouTube video ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.36 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KRgr9Qyfk0

Assembly

  1. Show the YouTube video ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ as the students enter.

  2. Show Slide 1.

    Ask the students, What makes a traditional Christmas?

    Ask the students to think about this for a moment. (You may like to invite them to exchange their ideas with their partner in a Rally Robin for 30 seconds.)

    Ask the students to raise their hands to contribute their answers to this question. Responses are likely to include presents, a Christmas tree, roast turkey and so on.

  3. Explain that you are going to show some pictures on the screen. You want the students to decide which of the two images makes for a traditional Christmas in their mind. Ask them to indicate their choice by raising their hand.

  4. Show Slides 2 and 3.

    Ask the students whether the turkey dinner or the Pot Noodle best represents their idea of a traditional Christmas. Ask them to to vote for their option by raising their hand.

  5. Repeat this process with Slides 4 and 5 (Christmas tree or Christmas cactus), Slides 6 and 7 (Christmas crackers or Jacobs Cream Crackers) and Slides 8 and 9 (lots of presents or no presents).

  6. Show Slide 10.

    Explain that the word tradition means a belief, principle or way of acting that people in a particular society or group have continued to follow for a long time’. It comes from a Middle English word that means to pass on.

    A tradition is a long-established way of thinking or acting that one generation passes on to the next. People learn what they expect a traditional Christmas to be like because they experience these traditions for themselves and because others show them and tell them how things are usually done at Christmas. In this way, traditions are passed down the generations. Although we may like a Pot Noodle - and who doesn’t love a cheeky Pot Noodle?! - a Christmas Day with a Pot Noodle, a cactus, some Jacobs Cream Crackers and no gifts wouldn’t feel right. It just isn’t traditional. In the same way, the traditional Christmas music that was playing as we entered the room reminds us of Christmases past, and can put us in a Christmassy mood.

  7. Christmas traditions vary around the world, of course. Different cultures and communities have different traditions connected to Christmas that they pass on to the next generation. Let’s look at some of these traditions: see if you can guess which country the following traditions come from.

  8. Show Slide 11.

    KFC? A Christmas Day feast of KFCs finest fried chicken? Does anyone want to guess where this Christmas tradition comes from?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    The answer is Japan. Does anyone here like the sound of that tradition?!

  9. Show Slide 12.

    In one country, its traditional to hide brooms on Christmas Eve. Does anyone want to guess where this Christmas tradition comes from?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    The answer is Norway. It’s a tradition that dates back centuries to when people believed that witches and evil spirits came out on Christmas Eve, looking for brooms to ride on.

  10. Show Slide 13.

    This tradition involves a scary character called Krampus. Someone dresses up as Krampus and then roams the city streets, frightening children with clattering chains and bells. Does anyone want to guess where this Christmas tradition comes from?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    The answer is Austria. According to German folklore, Krampus is said to be Santa’s evil accomplice. The tradition is that Santa rewards well-behaved children, whereas Krampus scares children who have been naughty.

  11. Let’s have a go at one more tradition.

    Show Slide 14.

    In which country do you think people head to church in the early hours of Christmas morning on Rollerblades? Any guesses?

    Listen to a range of responses.

    The answer is Venezuela.

Time for reflection

As we think about all of these Christmas traditions – some familiar to us, some less so – lets reflect on what Christmas celebrates: the birth of Jesus. Let’s take a moment to reflect on what tradition means when we think about this event.

Show Slide 15.

In the Bible, it says, ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son’ (John 3.16). These words have been handed on from generation to generation to people all around the world. They were written by one of Jesus’ disciples, John, who was best friends with Jesus. John had seen Jesus die, and had met the risen Jesus. John spent the rest of his life reflecting upon what God’s love through Jesus meant for him and for the world. John believed that Jesus was the Son of God. He believed that Jesus came to earth from heaven to show us God’s love and forgiveness. John wrote these words down so that they could be handed on - remember, the word ‘tradition’ comes from a Middle English word that means to pass on’. Johnwords are very special to Christians because they hand on the belief that at Christmas, God became human.

Lets also think about Jesus’ birth itself. Was it a traditional birth? In some ways, yes. Jesus was born in the same way that each of us here were – our mum went into labour and gave birth to us. However, in other ways, Christians believe that Jesus’ birth was like no other birth before or since, in that Jesus was God born as a human.

Whether we celebrate Christmas big style, with turkey and all the trimmings, or whether we celebrate with a KFC or even a Pot Noodle, let’s consider what those words John passed down might mean for us. Let’s consider what it means that God loves this world, and that God created and loves us.

Pause to allow time for thought.

Prayer
Dear God,
We thank you for the many traditions we have at Christmas.
For the good food, the presents and the fun we have in decorating the tree.
We pause to remember all the people we love who have passed on these traditions to us and taught us how to celebrate.
We also pause to think about the words John has handed on to us through the Bible.
We thank you that you love us.
We thank you for the gift of Jesus.
We thank you for love and forgiveness.
Please bless our Christmas times, our holidays and our times with loved ones this December.
Amen.

Song/music

‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KRgr9Qyfk0

Publication date: December 2017   (Vol.19 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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