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A *Beary* Merry Christmas

Christmas Around the World

  • Hanukkah (Jewish Festival of Light)                                 Latkes (recipe) ~~ Candles (activity)
  • Mexican - Buneulos (recipe)
  • Scandinavian - Solstice Punch (recipe)
  • India (Festival of Light) -  Barfi (recipe)
  • Black Heritage (American) - Kwanzaa Candles (activity)
  • Chinese Winter Festival- Lanterns (craft)

Chinese Winter Festival

The Chinese Winter Festival or Festival of the Winter Solstice, is celebrated on the eve of the winter solstice, or the 11th moon in the Chinese calendar.  This festival celebrated in honor of the deceased ancestors, includes the custom of giving prayer and offerings to the ancestors as well as having family reunions.

The lanterns are used by many people in China to add enjoyment to festivals and celebrations.  For centuries, lanterns have been made of jade, glass, tissue or rice paper, or silk.  Some Chinese lanterns have combined textile arts with dramatic lighting.

To Make a Chinese Lantern:

cylinder oatmeal or salt box (if not available, form poster board into cylinders)
scissors, hole punch
felt markers
shiny fabric to resemble silk (tissue paper may also be substituted)

  • Cut 2 - 4 rectangles out of an oatmeal box (after removing the outer label).  If using poster board, glue fabric/tissue paper to it before forming into a cylinder (much easier for the young ones!)
  • Cut a piece of fabric/tissue paper large enough to fit inside the cylinder and overlap slightly
  • Draw some Chinese designs onto the fabric/tissue paper.
  • Use felt markers to add vibrant colors.
  • Glue the fabric (or tissue paper) into the inside of the oatmeal box and carefully stretch it or it will dry wrinkled.  (Younger children may need to glue the fabric/tissue paper to the outside of the cylinder)
  • Punch holes on each side of the lantern and tie a string to hang.
  • Hang over a light bulb, or use on the table with a short, fat and steady candle.  (Do not leave unattended).
  • Black Heritage (American)

    For this flannel board game cut a seven candleholders out of  brown felt.  Cut out seven felt candle shapes, one black and three each of red and green.  Then cut seven candle flame shapes out of yellow felt.  Place the candleholders and candles on the flannel board with the red and green candles alternating and the  black candle in the middle.  Then let the children take turns placing the flame shapes on the candles as you read the poem below.  Variation:  If desired, leave the candleholders on the flannel board throughout Kwanzaa and let the children "light" one of the candles each day.


    Seven little candles all in a line,
    Waiting to be lit at Kwanzaa time.

    Who will light the black one?
    (child's name) will light the black one.

    Who will light a red one?
    (child's name) will light a red one.

    Who will light a green one?
    (child's name) will light a green one.

    (Continue until all candles are lit).

    Seven little candles all in a line.
    Burning so bright at Kwanzaa time.

    Now let's count them - one, two, three,
    Four, five, six, seven candles to see!

    Hanukkahis the Jewish Festival of Light celebrating the victory of the Jewish people over their oppressors.  Potato pancakes, called Latkes, are a traditional food for this occasion.


    4 potatoes, peeled
    1 onion, diced
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup oil
    salt & pepper to taste
    sour cream

    Grate peeled potatoes and pat dry  with paper towel to remove excess moisture.  Mix together the potato, diced onion, eggs and flour.  Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Drop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the oil, flattening with a spatula, and cook until brown on each side, flipping once.  Serve warm topped with applesauce and sour cream.

    Hanukkah Candles - Board Game

    For this flannel board game, cut a nine-holed Hanukkah menorah shape out of brown felt, nine candle shapes out of white or blue felt, and nine candle flames out of yellow felt.  Place the menorah with the
    nine candles standing on it on the flannel board.  Put a flame shape on top of the middle candle.  Explain that with a real menorah the candle in the center (the sham mash) would be used to light all the other candles.  Then let the children take turns placing flame shapes on the eight remaining candles as you read the poem below.  Remove all the flames after each verse that the next child can "light" the appropriate number of candles.

    Variation:  If desired, leave the menorah on flannel board throughout Hanukkah and let the children "light" the appropriate number of candles each day.


    Eight little candles in a row,
    Waiting to join the holiday glow.

    The first night we light candle number one,
    Hanukkah time has now begun.

    The second night we light candles one and two,
    Hanukkah's here, there's lots to do.

    The third night we light all up to three,
    Hanukkah's here there's lots to see.

    The fourth night we light up to four,
    Each now a part of the Hanukkah lore.

    The  fifth night we light all up to five,
    Helping our Hanukkah come alive.

    The sixth night we light all up to six,
    Happy Candles - happy wicks.

    The seventh night we light all up to seven,
    The flow of each candles reaches to heaven.

    The eighth night we light all up to eight,
    Hanukkah's here - let's celebrate!

    Saint Lucia Day is a Scandinavian Celebration that marks the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice.

    Solstice Punch

    1 liter apple cider
    cinnamon sticks
    1 lemon, thinly sliced

    Heat the cider in a pot until very warm.  Remove from the heat and pour into cups, enough for each of your children.  Add a lemon slice and a cinnamon stick (to stir the punch) to each cup.

    Diwali is the Festival of Light that comes from India, celebrating the beginning of Winter.  A sweet ball called Barfi is one of the treats traditionally served.


    125 ml. butter
    200 ml. sugar
    200 ml. milk
    50 ml. powdered milk
    200 ml. ground almonds
    50 ml. unsweetened desiccated coconut

    Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over low heat.  Stir in sugar and the liquid milk.  Bring to a boil and boil hard for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and add the powdered milk.  Stir in the almonds and the coconut.  When cool, form into balls.

    Las Posadas is the Mexican version of a Christmas celebration, focusing on the journey of Mary and Joseph and the nativity scene.  A common treat is Buneulos, a flat sweet bread.


    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. baking powder
    4 cups flour
    1 cup water
    1/4 cup oil for frying
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    2 tsp. sugar

    Sift all the dry ingredients together.  Slowly add water and a little oil.  Turn onto a lightly floured board, and knead gently until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Divide into about 40 small or 24 large balls.  Roll these out into approximately 4 or 6 inches.  Fry in very hot deep oil until delicately  browned on both sides.  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

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