In France, Christmas Eve is the main day for celebrating Christmas, not Christmas Day. The special meal, opening gifts and going to Christmas Mass at church happens on Christmas Eve.
Children in France do not hang stockings on the fireplace. Instead they leave their shoes out for Le Père Noël (Father Christmas) to fill with gifts, but only if they have been good all year. There is also a character named Le Père Fouettard who follows Le Père Noël and is not very nice to the naughty children of France.
Enjoy practicing French with this song about Le Père Noël
Winter Solstice Festival
Dong Zhi, the Winter Solstice Festival, is on December 21st this year. It is a festival celebrating the shortest day of the year, as well as welcoming Winter. Dumplings are the most well-known food connected with this festival. And a popular saying in Mandarin as well, “Chī jiaozi bú dòng ěrduo.” (You will not freeze your ear if you eat dumplings!)
Click here to find out more, including another popular food that is often eaten in Southern China for this festival! (This is a great video, but was made in 2017, so it is going to say the Dong Zhi is on December 22. However, this year it is on December 21.
We found another video that shares even more historical facts about this Festival, including more details on how dumplings became associated with this event.
Want to see how the glutenous rice balls are made, check out this video!
New Years Tradition
You might wonder what 12 grapes have to do with New Years, but it is a long-standing tradition in Spain on New Year’s Eve to eat twelve grapes. As the New Year chimes in, and bells ring twelve times for 12 o’clock, people try to see if they can eat all twelve grapes by the time the twelfth bell chimes. If you can eat all twelve grapes you will have good luck for all twelve months of the New Year!
Want to know even more about this tradition check out this website that includes a printable activity!
YouTube has a great video (in Spanish) showing how this tradition in celebrated.
Click here for an activity to do at home, in addition, try to see if you can eat twelve grapes in the first twelve seconds of the New Year!
Japanese New Years Tradition
Mochi-tsuki, or pounding rice to make mochi (rice cakes), is an important Japanese New Year’s Tradition. Here is a fun website with lots of facts about Mochitsuki. Click here to read more and watch a short video of the Fastest Mochi Making in Japan! Be sure to watch to the end to see it in slow motion. There is a precise rhythm that helps keep the mochi makers in step (as well as safety).
You can attend a virtual celebration through Mochitsuki Portland! To find out more information on how you can watch click here. They have a calendar of events for the whole month of January!
Check out this video to watch the Mochi-pounding ceremony at the NorCal Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco.
Have you ever colored online? Try coloring these mochi from your computer here.