Christmas in Puerto Rico Lesson

A great way to communicate to your class what are the Christmas traditions from your country and how it´s celebrated there is to share with your students a presentation about Holiday traditions and customs from your country. Me recommendation is that you do an online research on your local traditions that includes:

  1. History
  2. Origins
  3. Typical Food
  4. Type of clothes used
  5. Gift
  6. Christmas day

This are some topics that you can include in your presentation. But as always it´s up to you what or how many topics you want to discuss with your class. Here I mention just a few so that you may have an idea or starting point for your class lesson. But the best way is to use personal examples from how you and your family celebrate Christmas back home. Kids actually want to know your perspective and your experiences.

Lesson is the following:

I. Introduction – you can talk a little bit about your personal experience with the topic and ask them questions of related to the topic.

II. Presentation – topic discussion (I will include the presentation below. Feel free to take some ideas from it and even use it on your Christmas lesson and modify it so that it includes relevant information from your country and family.)

III. Questions – ask questions to encourage interaction with the students

IV. Christmas related activity – game, activity, movie, songs, pictures…etc

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Presentation

I. History

  • Christmas Origins

Christmas day is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated generally on December 25.

  • Tradition

Gifts are exchanged partly because the Bible tells of the wise men bringing gifts to the Christ-child as they came to worship Him.

  • Santa Claus or Noel

Santa Claus comes from a real person in 325 A.D. – Saint Nicholas in Turkey.
St. Nick had a penchant for secret gift-giving; he would place coins in a stranger’s shoes. This holiday grew into modern-day Christmas.

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  • StockingsWere originally hung, hoping that Saint Nicholas would bring gold coins. Most were filled with small gifts, especially fruit & nuts

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Christmas eve

Is celebrated because the Jewish tradition is that the new day starts at sundown [therefore Christmas eve is actually the start of Christmas day.]

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  • Santa’s Sleigh

The idea of Santa’s sleigh, reindeer, etc: came from 2 published works in 1822-1886. 1822 – “The Night Before Christmas” 1863-1886 – magazine published pictures of Santa’s workshop, Santa reading letters, Santa checking his list, etc.

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  • Christmas Tree

The exact origin of the Tree is not known, but it is believed to come from Northern Europe. People put all types of decoration, like lights, balls, ribbons and even popcorn.

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II. Christmas in Puerto Rico

  • Parrandas

After thanksgiving people start to celebrate Christmas by singing carols and giving each other parrandas. These are given by friends and family and usually at night and go house to house singing Christmas songs.

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  • Instruments used

The parranderos play the cuatro, the güirros and the maracas. Parrandas last till mid-January.

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Christmas Eve

On Christmas eve friends and family get together to celebrate with music and eat local customary Christmas food.

Puerto Rico Christmas local food

  • Pork, Rice and beans, Savory cakes (pasteles), Blood sausage, coconut pudding (tembleque) cocunut drink (coquito) Sweet rice and potato salad.

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III. New Years Celebration

Family and friends gather to celebrate the new and say goodbye to the old year. Traditionally people do the following:

  • DRESS IN NEW CLOTHES
  • CHEER AND GIVE KISSES AND HUGS TO EACH OTHER
  • MANY THROW FIREWORKS
  • WISH EACH OTHER: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

IV. Three Kings Day

Children pick grass to put into a shoe box. The shoe box goes under the bed the night before.The kings give the grass to the camels and they leave a gift for the child to discover the next day. Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar are the Three Kings that come barring gifts for the children.

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V. Las Octavitas

The“Octavitas mark the official end of Christmas in Puerto Rico.Traditionally if you received a visit from someone on the Three Kings Day you are supposed to return the visit eight days later. These are the last Parrandas days.

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VI. Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian

Known as “San Se”, is a very popular Puerto Rican festivity that takes place in the Old San Juan. It is a four-day event that starts the third Thursday of January through Sunday. This festive is in honor of St. Sebastian. January 20th is the day that the Catholic Church celebrates the life of this Saint. More than 200,000 people participate in this festival, making this activity be recognized internationally.

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VII. Christmas Activities

Candy Cane Hockey. Make 2 goals on a table (using jellybeans as goal posts). Take another jellybean and use candy canes to shoot it into the goals.

Candy Cane Horseshoes. This game is similar to the throwing horseshoes game. Put up a pole/stick/cone in the classroom. Students take turns throwing candy canes at it. The object of the game is to get your candy cane closest, and only throwing underarm. Extra points for getting the hook around the pole. The winner’s prize? To eat all the candy canes!

Christmas Tree Decorate. Cut out a large tree shape (a triangle with rounded corners) from poster board and pin to a wall in the classroom. Ss create decorations, ornaments and wrapped presents from craft paper, and then glue them to the tree.

© Samuel Enrique Martinez Fuster

 

 

 

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