The origin of the Advent Calendar can be traced back to the 19th. Century. The first styles came from the German protestant area where religious families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. The first known Advent Calendar which was made by handwork is from the year 1851. Since then, this Christian tradition has been part of the Holidays repertoire of many families around the world. Family member and friends look for the perfect Advent Calendar to begin the holidays celebrations.
This calendar come in a multitude of forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. Many families craft their Advent Calendars themselves, making of this process a great opportunity to kick off the Christmas season. There are so many wonderful ideas out there to create the perfect calendar for your family. Chocolates, candy, fudge, small toys, pocket books and many other items are suitable to keep children excited about opening their calendar every day.
How to nurture children’s curiosity and raise global awareness during the Holidays season?
A multicultural Advent Calendar is the answer!
Each day of this years advent my family and I are concentrating in being present, giving our time and attention as a gift, and learning more about holiday traditions around the world. These are some of the ideas that have made our Multicultural Advent Calendar possible. Remember to include some nick-knacks from your country of origin to learn more about your own heritage. Cultural awareness begins with the recognition and appreciation of one’s culture.
- Time to visit your local ethnic market.
From food to pottery, ethnic stores are a great place to introduce your children to another culture. It is a tiny appetizer to the knowledge of fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, sweets, pastries, and even clothing from other countries. Depending on the age of your children, you can simply buy a traditional sweet as a gift for some of the days of the Advent Calendar, or you can gift the excitement of a new adventure. How? Write a note that the kids will unwrap to discover that they have been invited to explore a new supermarket with many things from far away lands. You can even include a small allowance for them to spend there.
2. Sweets and Storytelling go together.
Enclosed your child’s favorite chocolate and a note inviting him to spend time on the sofa with mom and dad listening to a fun Christmas story. We have many books that we have collected over the years about Christmas around the world. Children love to hear what people from other countries eat on Chistmas Eve, or what present kids receive in other cultures. Keep it fun!
3. Spending time together is always fun.
In any language, in any culture, the need for interaction is key element of happiness. The Holidays season is a great opportunity to give ourselves to others and experience the positive rush of thinking of others and helping the community. Including some “days” in your Advent Calendar designated to spending time together as a family is always fun and cheap (for those like us that are always on a budget). My daughter loves rubbers (erasers), so for her we packed tiny unicorn erasers along with a note (pink paper of course) that says “hot cocoa time with mom”. On that day, I turn off my mobile phone, set the iPad aside, and make delicious hot chocolate to be drunk with my princess, just the two of us, chatting and enjoying the warmth of our decorated living room.
4. Treasure hunt meets Christmas season.
Treat your children to clues that will lead to a wonderful prize! Maybe a weekend getaway or a visit to a museum to learn more about your local culture. Kids will be for sure excited about going on a trip with mom and dad, and parents can make of this trip the perfect opportunity to explore their own traditions. Make an effort to prepare beforehand for the event. Reading about the place to be visited is always a good idea, that way children can reinforce hands-on what they have learned at home. Remember that if traveling is beyond the means of your family’s budget, you can try the next big thing: find a movie that will anchor your adventure. A film about other culture is a nice foundation for further knowledge.
5. Teach you child the “saving & sharing” lesson.
Saving is a skill that must be learned from a young age. Depositing a special Advent “bonus” into your child’s account is an exciting way to nurture the love for saving. Therefore, prepare an Advent day where kids unwrap a chocolate and a note that says that money has been added to their savings account. Do you want to take this gift one step further? Encourage your children to look for a charitable cause to donate part of their bonus to help those in need. There are a huge number of websites with information about charity institutions around the world. Help your children to choose one and then learn more about that country.
In conclusion, it is important that your family enjoys the Advent time and learn about diverse Christmas traditions. However, let’s not forget that despite the pervasiveness of Christmas, it is critical that any globally minded person not assume that everyone celebrates it. Be open to diversity and enjoy different cultures and “Christmasses”.
Have a wonderful Advent time! For more such stories from me, visit Little Nomads.