Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Teaching about American Christmas

Out of the 5 American holidays i decided to teach about this school year, Christmas was the 3rd/5 (I already taught about Halloween and Thanksgiving, and next will teach about Valentine's Day and American Easter).

In the beginning of the lesson i did a comparison with the kids about the similarities and differences between Moldovan and American Christmas traditions. I handed out a worksheet with 20 sentences and together we read through the list and wrote an "M" if it was Moldovan, "A" for American, and "MA" for both.

Here's the list:
1) Christmas is celebrated to honor the birth of Christ. "MA"

2) Christmas is celebrated on two dates: December 25 and January 7. "M"
(Due to strict Soviet restrictions of celebrating religious holidays, Soviet countries started secretly celebrating Christmas on January 7. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, January 7 (aka "Old" or "2nd" Christmas) is still recognized as Christmas, especially to the older generations who lived through the old Soviet times. December 25 is aka "New" or "1st" Christmas. Not all Moldovans celebrate both Christmases - it's usually one or the other.)

3) Santa leaves gifts under the Christmas tree. "MA"

4) Santa gets into the house to deliver presents by going down the chimney. "A"

5) People fast from animal products for 6 weeks before Christmas. "M"
(Not all Moldovans fast before Christmas, only the very religiously devout usually.)

6) Christmas is only celebrated on December 25, but Christmas Eve (December 24) is a special night of feasting and opening of a gift for some families. "A"

7) The Christmas season begins the day after Thanksgiving and lasts through December 31. "A"

8) Christmas carols are sung door to door, mostly by children who receive candy and money from the homeowners. "M"
("Colindă" or "Christmas Caroling" happens at least 4 separate days - 1st New Year's Eve (Dec 31), Old Christmas (Jan 7), Old New Year's Eve (Jan 13), and Old New Year's (Jan 14). It reminds me a lot of Trick-or-Treating in The States because kids dress up in masks and robes, go door-to-door, and instead of saying "Trick-or-Treat!" the sing traditional Moldovan Christmas carols and receive candy and money in their sacks.)

9) Children write letters to Santa Claus. "MA"

10) People go to church. "MA"

11) The Christmas season usually starts on December 31 with the decorating of the Christmas tree ("bradul Crăciun") and lasts until January 15 (the day after "Old" New Year's). "M"

12) Christmas carols are sung door-to-door, mostly by adults, who do not receive candy or money - they just do it to spread Christmas joy. "A"

13) Mulled wine and champagne are popular during the Christmas season. "MA"

14) Another name for Santa Claus is "Ded Moroz". "M"
(Apparently this is more of a Russian thing, it means "Father Winter".)

15) The Christmas tree is decorated usually in early December. "A"

16) Popular foods at Christmastime are eggnog, peppermint, chocolate, cookies, candy canes, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and gingerbread. "A"
(In Moldova, especially after fasting from animal products for 6 weeks, it is common for Moldovans to kill and eat a pig at Christmas, breaking the fast.)

17) If the children are naughty, they get coal in their stockings. "A"

18) On St. Nicholas' Day (Dec 6 or Dec 19, depending on the locality), children leave clean shoes or boots at the door or window to get small gifts from Santa Claus. "M"
(Moldovans are extremely strict about clean shoes.)

19) The Christmas tree is usually decorated on December 31, the night that Santa Claus leaves small gifts underneath it for children to find on the morning of January 1st. "M"
(It is common for children to sleep next to the bradul Crăciun to try to see Santa leaving their gifts.)

20) The children leave milk and cookies near the Christmas tree for Santa. "A"

After i taught them about the traditions of an American Christmas, i had them trace and cut out their hands on green paper that i made into a Christmas tree (my 9th grade class is missing because they didn't come to class that day, so the tree is smaller than i had hoped). Then i gave them pre-cut round ornaments to decorate, to decorate the tree with. 

The drawings i added around the tree (including the star at the top) were from the review game i made „Calea Curcubeului: Crăciun ediție” (The Way of the Rainbow: Christmas edition).

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