We wish you a freaky Christmas

23-Dec-2010

Everyone knows that Christmas is celebrated differently in every country but which country can proudly claim to have the most um, ‘unique’ traditions? This lesson gets your students asking just that.

Start by reading your class the three scenarios below and get them to predict which one they think is true.

1. Children in Catolonia, Spain cover a log with a blanket which they nickname ‘Uncle Poo’ and hit with sticks to get it to give them presents.

2. In Norway children prepare a special poem and dance which they perform on Christmas Day to thank Santa for their presents that year.

3. In Iceland children sleep upside down in their bed on Christmas Eve to make sure that Santa does not wake them up with he slips presents under their pillow.

Answer: 1. The Caga Tio

The ‘Christmas Log’ popularly called “Caga tió” (pooping log in English), is a Christmas tradition widespread in Catalonia. Beginning on the 8th of December children give the log a little bit to “eat” every night and cover him with a blanket to keep him warm. Then on the 24th or 25th they come to collect their reward and order it to ‘poop’ presents by beating it with sticks, while singing various songs of Tió de Nadal.

Why not teach your students a typical ‘song’ of the Caga Tio:

Poop log,
poop turrón,
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
poop log!

Giving log,
give us treats,
give us sweets!
if you don’t want to give,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
give it up!

Now that you’ve got them thinking about strange traditions, next get students to predict in pairs from the images what the unusual tradition from around the globe might be.

Austria

Krampus is Santa’s evil twin who punishes all the children who have been naughty that year. On December 6th men dress up in scary costumes and roam around the town hitting people with sticks.

See for yourselves!

Krampus in action

Ukraine

In Ukraine an artificial spider and web are hidden in the tree and good luck is given to the one who finds it. The ornament celebrates a Ukrainian folk tale about a poor widowed mother who was unable to buy decorations for the tree who woke on Christmas morning to find that a spider had beautifully taken care of the job for her.

Norway

Brooms, mops and brushes are hidden on Christmas day as Norwegian myth maintains that on that day witches and evil spirits come out in search of brooms to ride on.

What holiday traditions do your students have in their country? Are there any to rival this collection for festive uniqueness?!

Nerys

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