Many of us take a break from our traditional school day during the Christmas holidays, although education still continues. Our kids learn cooking and hospitality skills, take part in mercy ministries and outreach activities, and participate in meaningful church programs.

And, of course, we study geography. Geography? Yes! It only takes a few additional minutes a day to incorporate meaningful geography/history into your Christmas celebrations.

What a great way to prepare for the celebration of the birthday of our Lord: learning about His people and how they celebrate His birth! At a time such as this it is important to understand where Christians around the world are
able to freely rejoice in Christ, as well as where our brothers and sisters must worship Him in secret.

Materials:

  • Bible
  • World maps
  • World Atlas
  • Bible Atlas - optional
  • Encyclopedia
  • References - libraries have many books on Christmas traditions
  • You Can Change the World,  Volume 1 or 2 - optional

Directions:

Read the Christmas story. Find the places mentioned in the Bible account on your world map or atlas. Talk about the weather and terrain there. Was it hot, muggy, dry, cold, desert, forest, or ... ?

Compare Christmas to important holidays in other religions. What are the significant differences? Locate places where there is not freedom to worship Christ. (Use Operation WorldYou Can Change the World, or even current events.)

Make a "Christmas around the World" Wall Chart.

Draw a simple grid and post it on a handy wall. Include some or all of the following:

  • Name of country
  • Freedom to be Christian?
  • Prayer requests
  • Special customs
  • Similarities
  • Differences

It would be valuable to have an outline map of the world on which kids can color in the countries where Christ is honored at Christmas versus countries where Christmas is not openly celebrated. How would we color in America?

How did Christmas come to be celebrated differently around the world? What are some favorite American traditions? With whom or where did some of these originate? How do these differ from traditions elsewhere? What traditions are Christ-honoring? Are there any that are not? Why not?

Some traditions are worth keeping and are enjoyable ways to reach out to others at Christmas time. Perhaps your family could incorporate some new ideas into your own eating, decorating, and other activities.

In my family that might mean dropping one or two of our favorite cookie recipes in exchange for a recipe or two from another country. We'd look up information about that country, find it on a map, and then enjoy telling our friends what we learned as we share the cookies. In other words, I'm not suggesting you ADD one more thing to your schedule, but rather substitute a few activities for the sake of learning something new!

Most importantly, pray! As you learn about different areas, use You Can Change the World as a prayer guide. In this book, I found that Christianity has been so removed from the culture in Uruguay that Christmas Day is now called Family Day, and it is illegal to talk about  religion in school or at the university. What a sobering reminder that we need to pray for and guard our religious freedom here in America, as well as pray to for those in other lands.

May you have a blessed time studying Christmas around the World!

Resources:
Much of this information was taken from the all new Hands-On Geography:
Exploring God's Creation
by Maggie Hogan. Find this and other resources like
outline maps, reference maps and atlases at her Web site:
www.BrightIdeasPress.com