The Whole World Celebrates!

It’s that most wonderful time of the year! Are you counting down the days? I am! This post is all about the fascinating ways different people from countries all around the world celebrate the season. I know most of you study ‘Christmas Around the World’ every year, so I tried to find some unique customs you might not know about. See if you can match up the clue with its country of origin. Then, click on the map to see if you’re right! (Bet you can’t guess which one goes with the good ole’ USA!)

Please note, countries are not to scale. If they were, which country would be the largest? the smallest?

Now here are some customs from each nation listed above. Match up the country with its Christmas tradition. Click on the country’s map to see if you’re correct!

  • In this country, people greet each other by saying, “Nollag Shoma!” Children attach pillow cases to the end of their beds to hold all their Christmas toys.
  • Christmas cake made from sponge cake, strawberries, and whipped cream is a holiday favorite in this country. Also, the preferred meal on Christmas Day? Kentucky Fried Chicken!
  • The favorite food for this nation’s holiday feast is ‘il capitone’, a fancy name for eel! Bubba Natali brings Christmas gifts to good children.
  • It’s traditional in this country to hide an ornament shaped like a pickle on the Christmas tree. In one part of this country, people parade an ox through the streets. The ox is decorated with holly and ribbons.
  • People in this country make dolls called ‘prune people’ from prunes, figs, and walnuts. They’re supposed to bring good luck. Children leave their shoes outside, hoping that St. Nicholas will fill them with candy.
  • Christmas is celebrated on January 7 in this country. Great Frosty visits, and children listen to the legend of Babushka.
  • Beginning December 12 each year, the Jolasveinars (Christmas Boys) cause all kinds of trouble in this island nation. They snatch candles, slam doors, and get into mischief.
  • Most of this nation’s population is Buddhist, so Christmas is not a public holiday here. Children still go to school on December 25, but they might be treated to a classroom party featuring a visit from Santa.
  • Since this nation is south of the equator, December 25 falls during its summer. Santa travels from town to town on a fire engine. A traditional Christmas food in this nation is pavlova.
  • The traditional Christmas meal, called ‘wigilia’ is eaten after the entire family sees the first star in the evening. They have named the star, ‘Gwiazda’. The family members all eat an ‘oplatek’, a special kind of wafer. According to legend, an angel or Gwiazda leave presents for children beneath the Christmas tree.
  • Most of the people in this country are Buddhist, but they like to make beautiful paper lanterns to decorate their homes. Santa Claus goes by the name of Chen-dan-lao-ren in this populous nation.
  • In this nation, you can expect to see an advent wreath in every home. They celebrate St. Lucia Day. They believe St. Lucia had a halo, or she actually glowed!

Merry Christmas to all!

I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip around the world. Look back at the nations you studied today. What continents were not included in our travels?

If you have time, there are lots of fun activities on this web page produced by a school in Kent, United Kingdom. Check it out! (Click on the picture below!)

Read something terrific over Christmas break, and make sure you finish your story from last week so you can get it entered in the contest.

This is my last post for the year 2012! Have a very Merry Christmas, and I’ll be back in January, 2013!

In the comment box below, please tell me about your favorite holiday tradition. How does your family celebrate the holidays?

So There I Was…

“Let’s do this!”

As I visit schools and talk with students, I’ve  noticed a trend: lots and lots of kids want to know how they can get their stories published! If you’re one of those students, this blog is for YOU!

I found this terrific website, “Adventure Write”. The site is hosting a creative writing contest for kids under the age of 19. Here are the prizes:

1. Publication on!

2. $50 cash!

3. Certificate of Achievement!

You can go to the website to learn more about the contest, but here are the basics:

  • Your story must be less than 1500 words.
  • Your story must be submitted by December 31, 2012.
  • Your story must be edited. It will be judged on grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

The first sentence of your story must start with:  So there I was…

Get started by clicking on the computer. It will link you to the site’s tutorial. Follow the directions to write a story.

Click here for the tutorial.

Next, I’ve added a graphic organizer to remind you of the elements of a short story and to help you get your ideas organized.   Click here: So there I was…

Now, let’s talk about content. The creators of the contest are very particular about what they will OR will not print. One of the suggestions says:

Stories must be tasteful and contain more mystery or suspense than gore.  Think Twilight Zone, Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock.

In other words, your story must be rated G or PG, no PG-13 or R! Don’t rely on bloody vampire battles, gory head-eating monsters, or vomit-spewing aliens. They want you to be creative and imaginative without all the gross stuff. And, they’d like for your story to teach a lesson about life. Whew, they’re really going to make you earn that $50!

Click on the poster to read the 2011 winning entry! Read the story carefully so you have a better understanding of what the judges want to read in a winning story. (In case you didn’t notice, the author is ten years old. See! You can do this!)

A leftover from last week’s blog! Click here to see Ethan’s winning story.

Your story must be submitted by December 31, 2012! If you want your teacher to help you edit, you need to get crackin’ (yes, I said,’crackin’) because Christmas break is write around the corner! Please note: The rules say that you may have help typing your story, but they must type what YOU’VE written! 

Next, click on the link below for the  entry form.

Guess I better get ‘crackin’!

Mail your entry to

Adventure Write Story Contest P.O. Box 872241 Wasilla AK 99687

Or, email it to this address: [email protected]

Good Luck!!! I hope to see lots of winners!

Teachers, I’ve included a link to a blog I submitted this week. If you have time (HA!), read it and leave me some comments. Did I forget to mention anything? Do you have pet peeves about author visits? Tell me so I can get the word out there!

Math Teachers: This is for you! I found this neat game for teaching GCF and LCM. I think your kids will like it! (But the music will probably make you nuts.)

And, finally, a big thank you to all the media specialists out there who work so hard to make learning an adventure!