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Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Holiday Themes Around The World

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The Night Before Christmas: A Comparison

This week-long lesson plan explores various holiday themes associated with specific regions of the world.

Day 1: England

Discuss a brief biography on Charles Dickens. Include an overview of his novel A Christmas Carol, as well as the custom of caroling and holiday readings (songs and stories). Another option is to discuss aspects of a Victorian style Christmas, from the clothing to the food, music, activities and toys associated with that style. Collection of printable Christmas Carols for kids (scroll down a bit on page link).

Recommended Books:

  • A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson
  • The Animals’ Christmas Carol by Jerry Smath
  • A Christmas Carol Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer

Related Activities:

Day 2: Russia or Germany

Discuss a brief biography on Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer of the famed ballet The Nutcracker as adapted from German author E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker And The Mouse King. The story is a classic holiday family favorite which is regularly presented worldwide on theater, radio, television and film during the winter holiday season. Numerous versions of the story are available in children’s books.

Related Resources:

Lesson Activity:

Discuss the five W’s by asking the following:

  • Who?: Who is the composer? or Who is the story about?
  • What?: What is a nutcracker?
  • When?: When was the work created? or What time is it taking place?
  • Where?: Where do the events depicted take place?
  • Why?: Why is this work/theme relevant to the holiday season?

Day 3: Bethlehem

Discuss the nativity and associated words (Bethlehem, manger, Mary, Joseph, Jesus, star, angel, three wise men/kings, etc). You can approach it various ways: traditional story; using Listen To The Silent Night book to offer the sounds of all the activity going on that evening; or from the point of view of the animals by using Who Is Coming To Our House? book.

Did You Know?: Silent Night is a lullaby for baby Jesus.

Recommended Books:

  • Listen To The Silent Night by Dandi Daley Mackall
  • The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie DePaola
  • A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck
  • Who Is Coming To Our House? by Joseph Slate
  • Asleep In The Stable by Will Hillebrand

Related Activities: 


Day 4: The Orient/Middle East

Discuss The Three Wise Men/Kings (also known as the Magi) who brought gifts to baby Jesus. You can explain the significance of their adoration to the baby by explaining they recognized baby Jesus as the King of Kings/Men on Earth. You can also offer a brief explanation of the three gifts presented: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Recommended Books:

  • The Story of The Three Wise Kings by Tomie DePaola
  • We Three Kings: An Illustration by Olga Zharkova
  • Small Camel Follows The Star by Rachel W. N. Brown

Related Activities:

Day 5: The North Pole

Discuss Santa Claus and his famous workshop. You can also offer a brief biography on Thomas Nast whose drawings in the Christmas edition of Harper’s Magazine in 1893 (which he modeled after Clement Moore’s Visit from Saint Nicholas) shaped the image of Santa Claus we know today. (some images)

Recommended Books:

  • Santa Who? by Gail Gibbons
  • “Twas The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • Christmas At The Top of The World by Tim Coffey
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (Caldecott Medal)
  • Santa’s Book of Names by David McPhail
  • Dear Santa: The Letters of James B. Dobbins by Bill Harley


Online Activities:



  • What is the first thing you learn at Santa class? the elfabet!
  • What do elves listen to while they work? gift rap music!
  • What does Santa wear all year long? Santa clothes!

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