Traditions can bring families together and create beautiful memories. If you are looking for new activities to celebrate the holiday season with your children, consider these fun and unique ideas from countries around the globe.
In Iceland, books are given as gifts on Christmas Eve. The word for this is Jolabokoflod or "The Christmas Book Flood." Families then read their new books while eating chocolate – yum! You can adapt this idea by reading a favorite book while eating a dessert inspired by the story. Check out these fun recipes for desserts that pair perfectly with classic kids' books.
On Christmas Eve in Argentina, the sky is full of lights. That is because many Argentinians celebrate Christmas by lighting fireworks or releasing sky lanterns. While it might be difficult to purchase fireworks during winter here in America, you can start a new tradition of releasing Sky Lanterns.
An old tradition in Sweden is to hang a sheaf of wheat in a tree outdoors for the birds called a Julkarve or Christmas Sheaf. Feeding winter birds and other wildlife by decorating an outdoor tree or bush with edible ornaments is a fun tradition to start with your kids.
In Denmark Advent Calendars are a fun way for children to count down the days until Christmas. Called a Pakkekalender, or gift calendar, it contains 24 small gifts for each child. A quick look around Pinterest will yield lots of DIY advent calendar ideas if you would like to start this tradition. Or buy a chocolate-filled Advent Calendar.
In Mexico from December 16 through Christmas Eve, children often take part in Posada processions. They go from house to house asking if there is room at the inn to remember Mary and Joseph's journey. Finally, one house welcomes the kids and they celebrate with a Posada party. Pinatas are often part of the festivities. If you want to add a piñata to your celebration check out these fun Christmas piñatas.
Ukraine is where it is believed that the story of the Christmas spider originated. According to legend, a poor widow woke on Christmas morning to a Christmas tree covered in spider webs. When the sunlight hit the webs, they turned into gold and silver – beginning the tradition of hanging tinsel on the tree. Read about this legend in the picture book "Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel" or hang a good luck spider ornament on your tree.
Advent Wreaths are common in many countries, but the origins of this tradition lie in Germany. An Advent wreath is usually made of evergreen boughs and contains four candles. Each Sunday in Advent a new candle is lit. Some add a fifth candle to light on Christmas. Consider using an Advent Wreath as a table centerpiece and add a peaceful glow to your family dinners during the season.
The Yule Log is often burned in French fireplaces on Christmas Eve. The log is lit on December 24th and kept burning throughout the night to symbolically welcome Mary and Joseph. You can celebrate this tradition without the fire hazard by serving bûche de Noël or Yule Log Cake on Christmas. This is a sponge cake decorated to resemble a log. Check out this recipe from The Food Network. Whether you try one or several of these fun activities, the benefits of spending time together as a family will be a welcome respite during the busy holiday season. And who knows? It might be the beginning of a new family tradition.