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Culture 1

Celebrate Christmas by Celebrating Cultures

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While many great Advent and Christmas traditions exist, some families seek new ideas and ways to celebrate the holiday season together.

Exploring other cultures is a new way to experience the Christmas season as a family. It might take a little planning, but sharing new traditions and learning is a great way to connect as a family and bring diverse conversations to your home.

A framework for exploring Christmas around the world 

Challenge: pick four countries special to your family.

These could be countries you’ve traveled to or want to visit. Countries you have a family connection to or countries represented by the neighbors in your community. The goal is to find exciting places to explore together as you learn more about other cultures.

Since there are four weeks in December or four weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas, exploring one country each week lets you deep dive into their cultural experiences and not overwhelm your family with other traditional activities.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember is to have fun and make special memories with your family! You never know what new traditions you might establish or how a practice like this can shape your family.

Repeat the following five weekly activities as you explore your four countries.

  • Day 1 – Research the country together.
    • Use this as a fun weekly outing to the library or another research spot in your local area. Pull out your computer in the living room and research these topics at the beginning of each week.
    • Check out a few books about this country/culture weekly from a local library, or listen to a cultural podcast together.
    • Remember to keep this age appropriate for your family. It doesn’t have to be the ultimate experience each time.
  • Look ahead to the later days this week – could you discover a tradition, food, and craft in your research today?

You could even use this research night and partner with other families, especially using it as a homeschool project, who are sharing this experience. Each Sunday or Monday night, you could get together, and the kids make a report on what you learned about the country. Take turns doing the research. Keep it easy on yourself!

  • Day 2 – Discover a unique Christmas tradition they celebrate.
    • How does the country celebrate Christmas?
    • Do they celebrate an alternative holiday from Christmas, or do they celebrate Christmas at a different time of the year?
    • Who is usually part of their Christmas celebration?
    • Do kids do different traditions than adults?
    • How could you celebrate that tradition together today?

  • Day 3 – Make a craft related to their culture.
    • In your research, did you find something they make or always have in their home?
    • Can you buy a kit from a hobby store and make it easy?
    • Don’t stress. Make your version of the project with materials you may already have at home.
  • Day 4 – Explore a local connection to their country.
    • Does a local grocery store carry products children in that country would buy?
    • Is there a play or theatrical experience locally that might introduce more about their country?
    • Is there a local store or boutique that carries clothing from this country?
    • Does your local community have a festival related to this country?

  • Day 5 – Eat a meal they might share during the holidays.
    • Find a local restaurant that offers the country’s cuisine.
    • Be brave and make a recipe native to the country you are discovering.
    • During dinner, share your favorite thing about the culture, something new you learned, and maybe even something you want to explore more.

Countries like England, Germany, Italy, China, Mexico, or Japan may be your first thought. But don’t overlook El Salvador, Venezuela, Sweden, Peru, France, Ethiopia or Brazil. Many restaurants in these ethnic cuisines exist across Arkansas and would be easy access from your hometown.

Check out our Only in Arkansas food posts for ideas of our favorite ethnic restaurant experiences in Arkansas and recipes from the First Security Bank Cookbook.

Cultural Experiences in Arkansas

Share with us how your family participates in this activity. For example, use #OIAChristmas or share your pictures in the Only in Arkansas group on Facebook. We hope your family makes incredible memories as you explore other cultures together.

 

Photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in South Arkansas with her husband and sweet Boxer, Bailey and one-year-old son! Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now she is using all of those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom!

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One response to “Celebrate Christmas by Celebrating Cultures”

  1. Keisha Pittman McKinney Keisha@bigpittstop says:

    such a fun homeschool idea and way to mix up the holiday celebration. We have so many cultural things around here, can’t wait to decide on our countries.

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