The holidays are a time for the old familiar family traditions. But if you are looking to shake things up a bit, and expose your children to a more global outlook this season, here are some fun and easy traditions from around the world that are easy to integrate into your merriment.
More than milk and cookies.
One of the easiest ways to get kids excited about new cultures and traditions is with food. And there are as many different dishes from around the world associated with this time of year as there are elves in Santa’s workshop. In Mexico, it is traditional to celebrate Christmas Eve with delicious tamales. In the UK, Santa doesn’t get milk and cookies, it’s sherry and mince pies that warm his late night sleigh ride (makes sense no!?).
Three Kings Day
Ok so the last thing you feel you need is another gift giving occasion right after Christmas. BUT Three Kings Day is a fun and practical way of making the most wonderful time of the year last just a little longer. On January 6th, many cultures around the world celebrate Three Kings Day. The night before, children put shoes, not stockings, by the door for the three wise men to leave them gifts. In our home, this tradition is a way of spacing out gift giving (not to mention taking advantage of those post Christmas sales) and heading off the post-holiday doldrums. You can also celebrate by dropping by your local French bakery for a “Gallette des Rois”. This simple cake comes with a crown wrapper and has a little figurine baked inside. Whoever gets the figure is king for the day and wears the crown!
The Christmas Market
Many US-based museums, cities or charities have adopted the German tradition of Christmas markets and I could not be happier. Hot mulled wine, fragrant cookies and holiday decorations and gifts put me in such a festive mood. Invite your child to check out pictures of some of Europe’s most festive Christmas markets online (Google Nuremberg Christmas market for example) then check out where in your local area there might be an event going on. It is a great opportunity to also check out and support independent merchants this season. You won’t regret it!
Many of kid’s favorite carols were not originally written in English. “Silent Night” and “Oh Christmas Tree” like Christmas trees themselves are actually German. Look online for foreign language carols to play at home. The familiar tunes make it easier to get kids excited about trying out new words and it is a wonderful teachable moment about the universal nature of Christmas.
Which traditions from around the world will your family celebrate this holiday season?