Saturday, December 18, 2010

While studying about Siberian Christmas we found this fun animation of the Christmas story.

We also learned that Christmas Eve dinner in Siberia is often a meal with 12 parts or dishes. These twelve items represent the 12 Apostles during the Holy Supper. Supper is served on Christmas Eve after the first star appears in the sky. I especially like finding that "After dinner, no dishes are washed and the Christmas presents are opened". I believe this is something we will have to do after our Christmas Around the World meal.

As a child myself I remember my mom sharing "Russian Tea" with us. I have found that indeed the instant tea, made with Tang, is based off a traditional tea made in Russia. Here is a yummy-looking recipe I hope to use with my family.

Russian Spice Tea - Christmas Holiday favorite

3 lemons

2 quarts weak tea

3 oranges

2 tbsp. whole cloves

1 pt. pineapple juice

2 c. sugar

Preparation: Squeeze juice from the lemons and oranges. Pour some boiling water over the cloves and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the juice and cloves. Add sugar and mix well. Add the tea and heat to boiling. Serve hot.

On this same site is a recipe for Russian Tea Cakes, very similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies. I think we will have to have some of these to go with our tea.

Oh my, our Christmas Around the World celebration is going to be quite festive and yummy. I hope I am able to pull it all together. Check back soon to see what all we put together. I hope to have a menu finalized in the coming days and will post it as soon as I do.

Russian American Christmas

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas in Siberia

As we move away from Croatia our schedule is getting busier with Christmas preparations of our own, but we wanted to take the time to look at a few more countries, so today we will focus on a region in Russia, Siberia. As most people imagine, this part of the world can get incredibly cold during this time of year, but I have enjoyed reading about the way they bundle up and face the cold as they go on with daily life.

Christmas occurs in Siberia on January 6th as the Russian Orthodox refused to follow the Gregorian calendar and instead use the Julian to determine the date of the holiday. Because of this Christmas comes after the celebration of the New Year which is often the bigger celebration of the two. Christmas was also outlawed during a time in Soviet reign and this has had an effect on the traditions that have lasted to today.

One story we enjoyed hearing from Siberia was the folktale of Babushka, grandmother, and the role she plays in the gift-giving. It is the story that the three wise men asked Babushka to join them on their way to Baby Jesus. She refused and regretted it later. So, today she offers gifts to all the good children in place of the gifts she missed giving to the Christ-child.

Also in Siberia we found the Santa Claus is represented instead by Dedushka Moroz, Grandfather Frost, and his grandaughter, Snegurochka. These two show up on New Year's Eve to offer gifts of candy to the children.

Russian Crafts
Russian Christmas

Praying for the work of Alex and Yulia in Siberia. Learn more from them at Transform Siberia.

Christmas in Croatia- Cont.

Though I haven't had time yet to make and photograph the ornament for our Christmas Around the World Tree, I am planning to base it off this Croatian traditional ornament, the Licitar Heart. These hearts are given during many special celebrations in Croatia as a symbol of love. They are often edible, though I don't think mine will be.

For our meal I am hopeful our wheat that we planted on the 13th will have grown some, and we will place it in the middle of Bozic Pletenica, a braided bread wreath. A great-looking recipe can be found here.

I also hope to make Croatian Knedle (Potato Plum Dumplings) using the recipe found here. I may be a bit overambitious on all this food, but do hope to have as much of it done ahead of time as possible. We'll see.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas in Croatia

Next we wanted to take a look at Christmas in Croatia. This country has many long-standing Christmas traditions that date back to the 9th Century when Christianity was first introduced here. As in most other countries, homes are decorated with all kinds of festive items including a nativity. A variety of greenery is used, holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, etc., and in more recent years Christmas trees have also become a part of the holiday home.

On December 13th, St. Lucy's Day, many homes place wheat seeds in a saucer of water to begin to germinate. The growth of the wheat is considered a measure of next year's fortune. A tall, stalk of green wheat by Christmas Eve suggests a fruitful year ahead. Straw is also placed around the home and under the tablecloth as a sign of fertility and Christ's birth in a manger.

We'll be continuing to learn more about Croatian Christmas and be back soon to share what we learn.

Christmas Around the World
Holiday Traditions
Christmas in Croatia
100 Years in America

Christmas in the Philippines- Cont.

The kids and I had fun focusing on the Philippines and creating our own simple version of a parol. For these stars, we used colored vellum that allows light to shine through them. With them hanging in the window they make bright, cheery sun-catchers. I also made a miniature parol for hanging on our Christmas Around the World Tree.

Here is a recipe for Pancit Bihon shared by our friend, Naomi, in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. We look forward to making this for our Christmas Around the World Dinner planned for a couple weeks from now.

Pancit Bihon
1 8 oz. package pancit bihon noodles (or angel hair pasta)
1 cooked chicken breast, shredded (can also use pork)
1 pound shrimp (optional)
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1/4 cabbage, sliced into strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, sliced into thin strips two inches long
3 stalks celery, sliced into thin strips two inches long
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon oyster sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
5 wedges of lemon
Soak the pancit bihon noodles in warm tap water to soften for 10 minutes.
Grease a large pan or wok with oil. Saute garlic and onions.
Add the chicken broth, the shredded chicken breast and all the vegetables until cooked.
Mix in the pancit bihon noodles and add the soy sauce, cook for about 5 minutes or until
the noodles are soft. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side.
Serves 6 as main dish.
Serves 10 as side dish.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas in the Philippines

Moving on from Africa we focused our studies on the chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines. Christmas is a big deal here! As we saw in South America a large percentage of this nation has Catholic influences. (They also have a Misa de Gallo, known as Simbag Gabi in Tagalog). Celebration of the holiday season begins back in September. Yes, in September, when people begin decorating and start a daily countdown from 100 days. This is even broadcast on the nightly news.

Many homes decorate on the inside as much as they can afford to with Christmas trees and a Nativity. The most important decoration in a Filipino Christmas is the parol. This star lantern can be hand-crafted by the family, but is also available commercially.

Gift-giving is an central part of Christmas in the Philippines with gifts often exchanged amongst family, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers. The biggest celebration takes place at midnight on December 24th. During this time, Buena Noche, gifts are shared and a large meal enjoyed.

Caroling takes place throughout the region by those seeking to gain money or food. Performances can also be planned as a way to raise support for charitable work. We enjoyed listening to this Christmas song done by a school in the Philippines.

We'll be back soon to share a little more of what we learned about this region of the world.

Christmas in the Philippines

Special thanks to Naomi for sharing all she is learning in the Philippines. Praying for you and your family.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas in Tanzania- Cont.

Here are the results of our study of Tanzania. For our craft we focused on creating Cut Paper Collages of Christmas scenes. This is a few of the kids works, though they had so much fun with it, they have made many of them to decorate the house.

I also finished the ornament to represent Tanzania on the World Christmas tree- an African-style angel.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas in Tanzania

Continuing with our studies of Christmas Around the World we zoom over to Tanzania today to look at an African country. This country has a population that is largely Muslim, so Christmas is not as prominent as it is in other parts of the world. On a whole the nation is poorer than most as well, so we learned children often receive a set of cloths as their main gift (possibly the only clothes they will receive all year). Knowing that Christmas is simpler here makes me look at our American Christmas through different eyes. What a wealth of things we have for ourselves even when we think the budget is a bit tight. It is good to be reminded of the need around the world for simple things that we take for granted.

Our craft for today is roughly based off the book The Night Before Christmas by Rachel Isadora. This book is a retelling of the well-known poem by Clement Moore with beautiful artwork depicting an African setting. It is done in a cut-paper collage format that we will be duplicating with our own Christmas images. This is a great way for us to incorporate our paper-fold-and-cut snowflakes for this holiday season. Be back tomorrow to share our results.

For links used in reference today go to:
Christmas in Africa
Christmas in Tanzania

Praying for Mavuno Village and their work in Tanzania.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas in Puerto Rico

Now we travel to Puerto Rico in our Christmas Around the World studies. A Puerto Rican Christmas has similar traditions to Bolivia with many of the influences coming from Spanish descent and Catholic history.

Holiday celebrations begin after Thanksgiving and last until January 6, El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day). Most of the festivities center around music, such as parrandas (caroling), where groups of friends travel the neighborhoods waking up "unsuspecting" neighbors with singing. The group is welcomed with parties and further singing through the night. Here is a well-known song I thought fitting to share.

Many Puerto Ricans do their big feast on Christmas Eve and also attend La Misa de Gallo. After a week of celebrating and bringing in the new year, the children prepare for Three Kings Day by placing a box with grass under their beds for the kings' camels and in return receive gifts. For our Christmas Around the World tree we created a star (again from the ornament dough) to represent los Tres Reyes Magos who followed the star to Bethlehem in search of Christ.

Links I referenced:
A Puerto Rican Christmas
Welcome to Puerto Rico
Christmas Traditions of Puerto Rico