'Christmas around the World' helps young people discover more about Christmas traditions, think about the worldwide church and encourage prayer for believers who live in places where this Christmas they will continue to be persecuted for their Christian faith.
These Christmas resources can be used as part of a youth night, youth club or Christmas presentation.
FINISH THE PHRASE
The opening icebreaker begins the session by asking the group about their own experiences of Christmas and their expectations for this year. Write the ten unfinished phrases onto cards and place a number (1-10) on the other side. Explain to the group that the cards contain a phrase about Christmas which they need to finish i.e. the best present I ever had was... Ask a young person to select a number and finish the phrase. The same number can be selected more than once. Play until as many as want to have had a go, get involved yourself and encourage your helpers to participate.
- The most exciting thing about Christmas is...
- The happiest Christmas I ever had was...
- My favourite food at Christmas is...
- The best party I have ever been to was...
- The worst thing about Christmas is...
- The best present I ever had was...
- I like Christmas because...
- I think Christmas is important because...
- The present I most want for Christmas is...
- My most embarrassing moment at Christmas was...
Ask the group about what they are hoping to do this Christmas? Will they be visiting anyone? Ask if any of the young people have celebrated Christmas in another country. Do they have any friends or family in other countries to tell them about their celebrations? Introduce the theme that Christmas – the coming of Jesus as Saviour of the world - is celebrated around the world through many different activities and traditions. Introduce the two quizzes as an opportunity to discover more about Christmas sayings and traditions around the world.
The aim of this game is to match the languages to the countries. Divide into teams of six and provide each team a set of 24 cards, 12 with 'Happy Christmas' in each language and 12 with the country names. Each team has 3 minutes to match the languages and the countries. The winning team gets to wish the group a 'Happy Christmas' in the language of their choice!
- Czech Republic - Vesele Vanoce
- Finland - Hauskaa Joulua
- Norway - Gledelig Jul
- Italy - Buon Natale
- Germany - Frohliche Weihnachten
- France - Joyeux Noel
- Greek - Kala Christouyenna
- Korean - Sung Tan Chuk Ha
- Bangladesh - Shuvo Baro Din
- Egypt - Mboni Chrismen
- Russian Federation - Hristos Razdajetsja
- Thailand - Ewadee Pe-e Mai
AROUND THE WORLD
Preparation: provide copies of an alphabetical list of the countries of the world. This is easily found through a Google search. Have a map of the world available for the young people to view.
Divide your group into teams of 4 for the quiz. There are 12 questions about Christmas traditions around the world. Each group can use their country list to help them select their answer. Each group then writes down their 1st choice and 2nd choice answer. Three points are awarded for a correct 1st choice and one point for a 2nd choice.
In which G did the tradition of Christmas trees start? Germany
In which M do they hang jars or paper bags filled with sweets called 'piñatas' and decorated with tinsel, from the ceiling of the house or in the doorway. Children are blindfolded and given a stick to try and hit the bag and break it open? Mexico
In which N do they use a blossoming tree called a ‘pohutukawa’ as a Christmas tree instead of a fir tree? New Zealand
In which M do people make paper stars with candles inside them to hang on their houses? Myanmar (Burma)
In which N do families light a candle every evening from Christmas Eve until New Year? Norway
In which U is there a town called Santa Claus? USA
In which C do they have a special meal on December 5th where they leave one spare place at the table for the Christ child who is yet to come? Czech Republic
In which F do families cook ginger bread together and make rotating advent candles? Finland
In which I do they exchange gifts on January 6th delivered by 'La Befana' who leaves the presents in their shoes? Italy
In which S are children given their presents by the wise men not Santa Claus? Traditionally the children leave out straw for the camels and their shoes for the present to be placed upon. Spain
In which S do they celebrate St Lucia's day on December 13th? Sweden
In which U do the children have a special feast of 12 courses representing the 12 disciples? A child from the family has to look out of the window and when the first star appears in the sky the feasting begins. Ukraine
The team which scores the most points helps find the countries mentioned in the closing thoughts, on your map of the world.
Christmas is a great time for celebration and it's a celebration we can share with other Christians around the world. BUT in some countries being a follower of Jesus means persecution and suffering for your faith. Illustrate what this means with a personal story. Resources can be found at Open Doors International, International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, or Google to find other helpful sites.
Open Doors ‘World Watch’ list 50 countries in the world where Christians are suffering for their faith. Included in that list are the countries of North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Indonesia, Belarus, and Nepal. Ask the young people to find these countries on your world map and identify them with a pin or sticker.
Encourage the group to divide into pairs and write a short Christmas prayer for believers who live in these nations. They might want to pray for a peaceful Christmas, for freedom, for justice, for grace and strength, for the daily needs of families. Conclude by praying together. Either read the prayers out loud or stick them to the world map with a short silent vigil.
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Extract taken from ‘Christmas Unwrapped’ by Grahame Knox and Caroline Ray (1990)