Each year we try to “travel the world” and explore different winter holiday traditions to see how and what other people celebrate.
This year the kids are older and capable of some deeper work.
Winter Holiday Resources Starter Pack
I used a combination of paid and free resources for this study. These are the resources that we came back to again and again. We also used a variety of videos and web-based resources for each country and I’ll share those under a specific country.
For multiple countries, I used the following resources:
- Map Packet
- Christmas Around the World QR Code Hunt
- Winter Holidays Around the World Fact Sheets
- Summarizing Task Cards for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa
- Math Word Problem Task Cards for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa!
- Why Christmas? This is a really informative website – great for the last minute planner.
The countries we are studying this year are:
For each country:
We are learning a little about what holidays are celebrated, religious affiliations, food, and geography. I’ll link to my favorite resources that we are using below.
Winter Holidays in Russia
Russia was a lot of fun. We were able to discuss communism as religion (and Christmas) were banned following the revolution. In Russia, the typical secular traditions of the tree and gift giving are done over New Year’s. Russia is no longer under communist leadership and the predominant faith is the Russian Orthodox church which uses the Julian calendar. This means that they don’t celebrate Christmas until January 7th.
We watched a great video featuring a young woman spending Christmas in Russia in 2018.
Notice how dark it is at 9AM!
This video that gave us some more background in understanding how the traditions were divided in Russia.
We are also adding in some STEM/Art fun with an optical illusion.
Hanukkah in Israel
We chose Israel as our geographic location for Hanukkah. We recently moved to an area where there are way more Jewish people and have been exposed to lots of new religions and traditions. When it comes to Judaism, I always like Mayam Bialik’s videos
Again we did some map work
Finishing up with some reading.
Christmas in Mexico
Christmas in Mexico is very similar to most countries that celebrate, but with its own traditions. One of these is the observance of Los Posadas.
This is a packet designed for younger kids, but I was able to adapt it to meet my needs.
These decorations are popular during many celebrations in Mexico. This particular video references the Day of the Dead, but they are also common during Christmas and Independence Day.
Winter Holidays in Japan
Christmas is not a national holiday, but shopping malls are heavily decorated in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and many people follow some local Christmas traditions, such as eating chicken and a Christmas cake or having a dinner with one’s partner. We used this learning opportunity to have fried chicken for dinner!
This is a comparison between Christmas in Japan and England.
Japan has many winter holidays that are national holidays. You can a list of the winter holidays and festivals with some explanation at this great site on Japan. In Japan, the most important of these holidays in the New Year Celebration which is stretched out over several days.
Christmas in Germany
My husband’s family is German so we started with this fun video on “interesting” German traditions. She also has a playlist for other comparisons between German and American Christmas.
We used this packet about German Christmas to help round out our study for Germany.
We will be making our own gingerbread houses right before Christmas, but you can use this gingerbread house tutorial to make your own.