To mark the last school day before the Christmas break, we held a ‘Christmas in Different Cultures’ day. As well as themed lessons with interactive games and experiences, there were a number of fun festive activities throughout the day…
The history of the German-Austro tradition of St Nikolaus and his donkey was shared with pupils, along with accompanying German phrases. During some lessons, pupils could create and decorate a paper shoe in preparation for receiving treats in the shoe as per the custom. They were then able to visit St Nikolaus (aka Year 9 student Lewis Turner) and his donkeys (real donkeys from Wyeknot Donkeys) in his grotto to have their shoe filled with treats and pose for a photo. Speaking in German gained the students extra goodies!
In the theme of the Spanish Three Kings, surprise visits were made to lessons by ‘Kings’ (students in costume) to deliver gifts to those who have shown outstanding effort in their Languages lessons. The Kings obviously spoke Spanish during their visits. Conversely, Christmas traditions of Italy, Iceland & Austria were explored through characters such as ‘Krampas’, ‘Befana the witch’, and the Yule Lads of Iceland who are the antithesis of Santa, designed to punish the naughty at this time of year. There were visits from Krampas or Befana with a few twigs for those not working hard enough!
In Norway at Christmas time, people hide their brooms to keep away evil witches. Students were challenged to work in teams to locate 13 broomsticks hidden around the school. On each broom was a cultural quiz question linked to their learning about Christmas around the world.
During Language lessons, pupils examined how and why animals are involved in Christmas traditions and learnt about Sweden’s Gavle Goat. They were able to see (and touch) some animals consumed in other countries (guinea pigs, rabbits and chickens), so provoking debate about what we consume.
We are very grateful to Janice Brown from Wyeknot Donkeys for bringing Shadow and Dusky into school. Wyeknot Donkeys is a community organisation which visit lots of schools, care homes and hospices, particularly during Advent. Our students generously donated £120 to the ongoing work of the donkeys and the therapeutic benefits they provide to the people they visit. To find out more, visit: https://www.facebook.com/WyeknotDonkeys/.