With the festive period having fast come upon us, it got me thinking about how Christmas is celebrated in countries across the globe.
As a distinctly Western-Christian tradition, it came as little surprise to learn that in the Middle East they don't particularly care for Christmas. The farther you get from the Western world, the less Christmas matters.
But within Europe itself, Christmas is perhaps the craziest cultural pandemic in the world.
The '12 Days of Christmas' seem to be a thing of days gone-by, as Christmas seems to last from the 1st of December way up until the fateful day.
But is this the case everywhere?
And more to the point: how can we use this information in our classes?
Well, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the ever-opportunist online teacher is always going to have to keep a few tricks up their sleeve.
Christmas presents the perfect opportunity to engage with the culture of your students, and engage with Christmas as its done in their home country.
Or better yet, show them what Christmas looks like in the country of the language they're learning.
If your students are learning German, why not show them what Christmas looks like in Germany? Or China?
Come up with fun and creative ways of engaging with Christmas-themes content. Don't shoehorn it in last minute; don't force it into a class which otherwise functions perfectly without it.
Try creating some specifically Christmas-themed lesson plans.
But if you're wondering which countries are most worth a look when it comes to Christmas, then lucky you: you've found the perfect answers to that question…
If you want to wish somebody a Merry Christmas in Spanish, you're going to want to say:
Midnight Mass is still incredibly popular in Spain, but they call it ‘La Misa Del Gallo' , meaning ‘The Mass of the Rooster', as they believe a rooster crowed to mark the birth of Christ.
These are the kind of details we'll want to keep in mind for tailor-fitting our classes – we can spice up our Spanish lessons at this time of year by keeping some of these key details in mind.
Maybe incorporate a Rooster into the lesson plans (a fake Rooster, not a real one… make one out of papier mache or something…)? Better yet, theme the lesson's worksheets around working towards the Rooster's cry, bringing about the birth of Christ. It's a bit dramatic but hey; you've got to keep them engaged.
This attention to detail is sure to set you apart from the pack, and in the busy and bustling world of online teaching you should take every advantage you can get.
When we're teaching Italian, we're going to want to wish our students a Merry Christmas by saying:
For Italians, the Nativity Crib scene is of utmost importance to Christmas.
In fact, some Italian families even go so far as to reconstruct the scene in miniature within their own homes, creating beautiful dioramas displaying the birth of Christ.
The Nativity scene is usually put out on the 8th of December, but it's important not to put the Baby Jesus into the scene until the night of Christmas Eve!
When you're teaching online, you might want to consider incorporating some of these details into your lesson plans. Don't be afraid to get creative!
Make it a race against the clock to construct a Nativity in time for Jesus' birth by having an intricate words game – each correct translation gets you another element of the scene!
When we're taking our German classes, we're going to want to wish a Merry Christmas to our students by saying:
Christmas Trees originated in Germany, and it's quickly taken over the world. Within a couple centuries there was one in every house.
But how can we incorporate this into our online teaching?
Well, a series of Christmas-themes worksheets are definitely an obvious answer, but you can stand to be a little more creative – have your students gradually reveal a Christmas Tree construction you've made by completing word challenges; every word correctly translated gets another bauble on the tree, etc.
The possibilities are only as limited as you are.
In France, people wish each other Merry Christmas by saying:
During the month of December, many French towns and cities will hold markets selling small clay figures. These figures are Jesus and his Earthly family, which will each be inserted into small nativity scenes throughout the month.
French homes will often burn Yule logs, and Father Christmas plays just as central a role in the occasion as he does in other European countries.
When it comes to your lessons as you teach online, it might be a good idea to incorporate some of this information into your lesson plans.
Tailor some content towards Christmas when you teach your French classes, and you might see your students fully engage much more readily.
In China, if you want to wish someone a Merry Christmas then you're going to want to lead with:
Or, if you'd rather, maybe:
Shèngdàn jié kuàilè
Whichever floats your boat…
Christmas is only celebrated in major cities within China, as a consequence of the staggeringly low Christian population. Less then 1% of the country identifies as Christian, so Christmas really isn't that big of a deal for them.
Christmas parties are quickly becoming popular among the younger generations though, so it's expected that future generations may well celebrate Christmas just as thoroughly as we do.
China is a huge market for teaching online, so it would be a good idea to keep this in mind when you're taking your classes around this festive season.You can never really have too many ideas.
When you're delivering your Chinese lessons online, maybe you could stand to work in some Christmas-themed content? Younger people are rapidly identifying with Christmas more and more in China, so there's a good chance your audience will be incredibly receptive.
If you're not already a language teacher, you can explore the signing up to earn on Preply below: