Merry Christmas (market)!!


I’ve been travelling this November – to Bielefeld in Germany for the annual BESIG conference, and to Paris for the annual colloquium of TESOL France. Entirely by chance, I ended up planning visits to destinations traditionally associated with the old Germanic tradition of the Christmas market. I was desperate to make the most of this coincidence – and carefully planned my mission to look for mulled wine and Christmas cookies.

I was heavily disappointed to find Hamburg and Bielefeld Christmas markets still closed in mid November…

But finally found some well lit, cosy huts in Paris and Lille …

…. and – surprisingly enough – on my return in London!

There are millions of possible ways to celebrate Christmas. Some eat Turkey, some don’t. Some wait until the 25th in the morning, some open the presents on the 24th in the evening. We are all familiar with the traditional sort of Christmas lesson comparing different traditions, and introducing how the Brits and the Americans celebrate Christmas.
Why not make it a multicultural lesson this year, focusing on a very German tradition and show by means of examples how the UK integrates traditions from different cultures?

Warm up by showing your students some pictures of Christmas markets, asking them if they know what a Christmas market is, if they have ever visited one and if they liked it or not. What does the “typical” Christmas market need? What’s being sold there?

Ask your student to read the Wikipedia entity about Christmas markets. Can they fill in the gaps below?

A Christmas market is a ___________________ that takes place during ________________ . Christmas markets come from ___________________ and Alsace but they can now be found in many different countries. The ______________Christmas market, first held in 1434, is one of the oldest Christmas markets. The first Christmas market in the UK was held in 1982 in ______________ .

Now, look at the Time Out London website to find out about the different Christmas markets in London. Which one is open until after Christmas?

Ask your students to watch the tourist video about the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. What is the Winter Wonderland? What can you do in the Winter Wonderland? Who else was there already? Is it popular?

Now, find out more about the oldest Christmas market in Dresden, Germany. Do you think this Christmas market is similar to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park? What’s similar, what’s different? Which Christmas market do you think you would prefer?

To finish off, why not try a very Christmassy Role play? Divide your students into groups of 4-5, and assign Christmas roles to them that also came up in the Winter Wonderland video: Santa Claus, Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer, a Christmas tree, a Snowman, and a child visiting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
Ask them to discuss the questions below:

What do Santa Claus, Rudolph, the Christmas tree and the snowman think about the Winter Wonderland? Do they like the way they are represented there?
What does the child think about the Winter Wonderland?
What are their various personal problems during Christmas time?
Do they like Christmas?
What will they do once Christmas is over?

Merry Christmas!

Eva Maria Schmidt

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