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6 International Christmas

This section aims to raise your intercultural awareness, by exposing you to the many and different Christmas traditions around the world. It will encourage you to discover the connections between language and culture and engage you with online communications and research. You will also be given the opportunity to use your own creativity as a learning tool.

Please note that Christmas has been chosen as an example of a festival which is celebrated in different ways in different countries. The activities form a useful starting point from which to explore cultural variation. This is equally true of other religious festivals.

Activity 14 British Christmas traditions

Timing: You should allow 15 minutes

Think about British Christmases and try to answer the following questions.

  • Which day do you think is the most important day at Christmas?

  • What do people do on that day?

  • When do British people exchange presents?

  • What food is normally eaten at Christmas?

  • How do people in Britain decorate their houses at Christmas?


The most important day is Christmas Day, which falls on 25 December.

This is a public holiday. For many families, this is a time to get together for a Christmas meal or celebration. If people are religious, they will normally attend church during the Christmas period.

Christmas presents are exchanged on Christmas Day.

A traditional Christmas meal could consist of a light starter, followed by turkey or goose, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts, chestnuts, red cabbage, vegetables, gravy, stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, party sausages wrapped in bacon, Christmas pudding or cake, mince pies with brandy butter, Yule log, cheese and biscuits.

The main decoration is a Christmas tree, often decorated flowers, lights, tinsel, baubles, etc. The house may be decorated with internal and external fairy lights and other decorations. Christmas cards are also put on display around the house.

Activity 15 ‘Merry Christmas’ in different languages

Timing: You should allow 20 minutes

In the list below, you will see ‘Merry Christmas‘ written in a range of languages. Do you recognise any of the them?

Do you know in which countries these languages are spoken?

Kala Christouyenna!
Buone Feste Natalizie
Linksmu Kaledu
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
Feliz Natal
Sarbotori vesele
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou

The following websites may help you, and provide some interesting additional information:






Kala Christouyenna!Greek
Buone Feste NatalizieItalian
Linksmu KaleduLithuanian
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze NarodzeniePolish
Feliz NatalPortuguese
Sarbotori veseleRumanian
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim GodomRussian
Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh matBreton
Bon Nadal i un Bon Any NouCatalan

Activity 16 International Christmases

Timing: You should allow 40 minutes

Look at the list of languages below:

  • Greek

  • Italian

  • Lithuanian

  • Polish

  • Portuguese

  • Rumanian

  • Russian

  • Breton

  • Catalan.

Pick a country where one of these languages is spoken. Now try to find out as much as you can about Christmas in that country. Use reference books and/or the internet.

You may find the following websites helpful and interesting. They provide information on what Christmas is like in different countries.

Italy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/italian/christmas/index.shtml

France http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/christmas/index.shtml

Germany: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/german/christmas/index.shtml

Spain http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish/christmas/index.shtml

Christmas traditions around the world: http://www.santas.net/aroundtheworld.htm

The Christmas Archives http://www.christmasarchives.com/index.html

Christmas ideas for modern languages: http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/mfle/creativeteaching/christmasideas/index.asp

Information and Christmas recipes from Denmark, Mexico, Sweden and Switzerland: http://www.thecookinginn.com/tcirecipes/xmasworld.html

TES resources: http://www.tes.co.uk/resourcehub.aspx?navcode=70

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do people celebrate Christmas Day in your chosen country? Do they also celebrate on any other day during the Christmas period?

  • Do they exchange presents as we do in the UK?

  • Are there special foods people eat in that country at Christmas? How is it prepared?

  • Do people decorate their houses at Christmas? What kind of decorations do they have?

  • Choose one decoration and describe it (you might even want to try and make it yourself). Use a drawing to illustrate what it looks like.

  • Identify five words in the foreign language which are related to Christmas.

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