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My Christmas Class scheduled for 20th of December was a great success.
It gives me immense pleasure in sharing my knowledge with innocent yet intelligent kids. Christmas is a festival of expecting gifts from the one and only Santa Clause but their curious little minds are always in doubt if there is a Santa.
The cuteness of the kids are shown more when these little kids wrote to Santa Clause telling him what they want for Christmas! Check the lists that I have attached.
I adore these kids!
The facts , as I have learnt, I shared with them are listed below, so have fun reading them and enjoy the captured memories of my class.
There are several different stories of the many Christmas traditions we have today. Some of them might even be true. Here are a few of the stories behind popular Christmas traditions, just in case you've ever wondered.
The Story of Christmas Stockings (Socks)
Stockings are the best part of Christmas for kids - unless you're one of those naughty kids for whom Santa leaves no gifts. The tradition of keeping stockings started in Holland in the 16th Century. Kids would leave big sock shaped bags filled with hay near the fireplace for Santa's reindeer. Santa would then leave behind treats for the children.
The Story of the Christmas Tree
Christmas is incomplete without the Christmas tree. But why the Fir Tree?
Well, the story goes that St. Boniface, who is said to have converted many Germans to Christianity, came across a group of Pagans worshiping an oak tree. This made him angry, so he cut the tree down but then the tree didn’t die, instead there was a sprout and it became a fir tree. St. Boniface was astonished and thought that it must be a sign from God and it has been a Christian symbol ever since.
The evergreen fir tree has traditionally been used to celebrate winter festivals (pagan and Christian) for thousands of years. Pagans used branches of it to decorate their homes during the winter solstice, as it made them think of the spring to come. The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.
The Story of Gingerbread Houses
Who doesn't love making a gingerbread house during Christmas? Ginger can be traced back to Europe during the 11th Century. Explorers came back from the Middle East with the spice ginger. It quickly became popular, especially in Germany. Nuremberg, Germany is the gingerbread capital of the world. The Brothers Grimm, who wrote Hansel and Gretel, made gingerbread houses even more popular.
The Story of Christmas Cards
The first Christmas card was made by Sir Henry Cole who worked for the British Postal Service. He hired an artist to create three scenes - in the middle a family sat around the dinner table, on the left, the hungry were being fed and on the right, the needy were being clothed. The familiar greeting "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You" was written on it. English schoolboys also wrote greeting cards to their parents as proof of how well they could write.
The Man Behind the Story of Father Christmas/Santa Claus
St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century AD in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are several legends about St. Nicholas, although we don't know if any of them are true!
The most famous story about St. Nicholas tells how the custom of hanging up stockings to get presents in first started! It goes like this:
There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn't get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the brides parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.
Because of his kindness Nicholas was made a Saint. St. Nicholas is not only the saint of children but also of sailors! One story tells of him helping some sailors that were caught in a dreadful storm off the coast of Turkey. The storm was raging around them and all the men were terrified that their ship would sink beneath the giant waves. They prayed to St. Nicholas to help them. Suddenly, he was standing on the deck before them. He ordered the sea to be calm, the storm died away, and they were able to sail their ship safely to port.
St. Nicholas was exiled from Myra and later put in prison during the persecution by the Emperor Diocletian. No one knows when he died, but it was on 6th December in either 345 or 352 AD. In 1087, his bones were stolen from Turkey by some Italian merchant sailors. The bones are now kept in the Church named after him in the Italian port of Bari. On St. Nicholas feast day (6th December), the sailors of Bari still carry his statue from the Cathedral out to sea, so that he can bless the waters and so give them safe voyages throughout the year.
How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus
In the 16th Century in Europe, the stories and traditions about St. Nicholas had become very unpopular.
But someone had to deliver presents to children at Christmas, so in the UK, he became 'Father Christmas', a character from old children's stories; in France, he was then known as 'Père Nöel'; in Germany, the 'Christ Kind'. In the early USA his name was 'Kris Kringle'. Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas with them and Kris Kringle became 'Sinterklaas' or as we now say 'Santa Claus'!
Many countries, especially ones in Europe, celebrate St. Nicholas' Day on 6th December. In Holland and some other European Countries, children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas's horse, they will be left some sweets.
Some people say that Santa lives at the North Pole. In Finland, they say that he lives in the north part of their country called Lapland.
But everyone agrees that he travels through the sky on a sledge that is pulled by reindeer, that he comes into houses down the chimney at night and places presents for the children in socks or bags by their beds, in front of the family Christmas tree, or by the fire place.
Most children receive their presents on Christmas Eve night or early Christmas morning, but in some countries they get their presents on St. Nicholas' Day, December 6th.
St. Nicholas putting the bag of gold into a stocking is probably where the custom of having a tangerine or satsuma at the bottom of your Christmas stocking came from. If people couldn't afford gold, some golden fruit was a good replacement - and until the last 50 years these were quite unusual fruits and so still special!
Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles (The word carol originally meant to dance to something). The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, usually taking place around the 22nd December. The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived.
The Christmas Story
Long ago, about 2000 years, when King Herod ruled Judea (now part of Israel), God sent the angel Gabriel to a young women who lived in the northern town of Nazareth. The girl's name was Mary and she was engaged to marry Joseph.
The angel Gabriel said to Mary: 'Peace be with you! God has blessed you and is pleased with you.' Mary was very surprised by this and wondered what the angel meant. The angel said to her 'Don't be afraid, God has been very kind to you. You will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and give birth to a baby boy and you will call him Jesus. He will be God's own Son and his kingdom will never end.' Mary was very afraid but she trusted God. 'Let it happen as God chooses.' She replied to the angel. Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth who everyone thought was too old to have children, would have a baby boy whom God had chosen to prepare the way for Jesus.
Mary said goodbye to her family and friends and went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. Elizabeth was very happy to see Mary. She knew that Mary had been chosen by God to be the mother of his Son. An angel had already told Zechariah that Elizabeth's baby would prepare people to welcome Jesus. He was to be called John. Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home to Nazareth.
Joseph was worried when he found out that Mary was expecting a baby before their marriage had taken place. He wondered if he should put off the wedding altogether. Then an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: 'Don't be afraid to have Mary as your wife.' The angel explained that Mary had been chosen by God to be the mother of his Son and told Joseph that the baby would be named Jesus which means 'Saviour' because he would save people. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel had told him to do and took Mary as his wife.
At this time, the land where Mary and Joseph lived was part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Augustus wanted to have a list of all the people in the empire, to make sure they paid their taxes. He ordered everyone to return to the town where their families originally came from, and enter their names in a register (or census) there. Mary and Joseph travelled a long way (about 70 miles) from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because that is where Joseph's family came from. Most people walked but some lucky people had a donkey to help carry the goods needed for the journey. Joseph and Mary travelled very slowly because Mary's baby was due to be born soon.
When they reached Bethlehem they had problems finding somewhere to stay as it was overcrowded. The only shelter that they could was a stable or cave with the animals. In this poor place Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God. In those days it was the custom to wrap newborn babies tightly in a long cloth called 'swaddling clothes'. Jesus' bed was the manger that the animals ate their hay from.
In the hills and fields outside Bethlehem, shepherds looked after their sheep through the long night. As the new day began, suddenly an angel appeared before them and the glory of God shone around them. The shepherds were very scared, but the angel said, 'Don't be afraid. I have good news for you and everyone. Today in Bethlehem a Saviour has been born for you. You will find the baby lying in a manger.
Then many more angels appeared, lighting up the sky. The shepherds heard them praising God singing: 'Glory to God in highest, and peace to everyone on earth. When the angels had gone the shepherds said to one another, let's go to Bethlehem to see what has happened. So the shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph. The baby Jesus was lying in a manger as they had been told. When they saw him, they told everyone what the angel had said and everyone who heard the story were astonished. Then the shepherds returned to their sheep, praising God for sending his Son to be their Saviour.
When Jesus was born, a brand new bright star appeared in sky. Some Wise Men in faraway countries saw the star and guessed what it meant. They were very clever men that studied the stars and had read in very old writings that a new star would appear when a great king was born. They set out to find the new king and bring him gifts.
The Wise Men followed the star towards the country of Judea and when they got to the capital called Jerusalem they began to ask people: Where is the child who is born to be king of the Jews? Herod, the king of Judea, heard this and it made him very angry to think that someone might be going to take his place as king. Herod sent for the Wise Men to come to him. He told them to go on following the star until they had found the baby king. He said: When you have found him, let me know where he is, so that I can go and worship him. But Herod did not tell them that he really had an evil plan in mind to kill the new king.
The Wise Men followed the star towards Bethlehem (where it said that the king would be born in the old writings). It seemed to stop and shine directly down upon the place where Jesus was.
The Wise Men entered the house where they now lived and found Jesus with Mary, they bowed down and worshiped him. The Wise Men spread the the gifts they had brought before Jesus. The gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh. The Wise Men were warned in a dream, by God, not to go back to Herod. So they returned home to their countries in the East by a different way.
When the Wise Men had gone, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' the angel said, 'take Jesus and Mary and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for Jesus to kill him.' So Joseph got up, took Jesus and Mary during the night they left for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod died.
When Herod realized that he had been tricked by the Wise Men, he was furious and he gave orders to kill all the boys aged two or younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. This was to try and kill the new King, as his plan to find the location of the new king from the Wise Men had failed.
After Herod had died, Joseph had another dream in which an angel appeared to him. The angel said, Get up, take Jesus and Mary and go back to Israel, for those who were trying kill Jesus are dead.
So Joseph got up, took Jesus and Mary and they went back to Israel. But when he heard that Herod's son was now king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. So instead they went to Galilee, and lived in their old town of Nazareth.