What is Christmas?
In many places in the world, Christmas is the most popular holiday in the year, especially for Christians. It is very nostalgic for many people—the sights, the sounds, the smells—and time spent with family and friends.
Since Canada is in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in the winter season. Thus, we associate Christmas with the cold and snow, winter sports like skating, making a snowman, warming up by a fire and drinking hot chocolate. This is what we call “seasonal” Christmas.
Children have happy memories of Santa Claus bringing them presents. There are also family traditions such as putting up a tree and decorating it, putting up lights outside the house, getting together with family and friends and of course, eating a big dinner that includes turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, salads, vegetables—and for dessert pumpkin pie and whipped cream. Yummy! We like to watch Christmas movies such as, It’s a Wonderful Life. All of these things are what we call “secular” Christmas.
Finally, there is what we call “sacred” Christmas. This means that we remember the very first Christmas when baby Jesus was born. Anything about this event, such as Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, Bethlehem, the angels, the star, the shepherds, and the wise men, are part of the very first sacred Christmas.
Sometimes it’s confusing to newcomers because they see and hear so many things around Christmas time—lights, trees, bells, decorations, Santa Claus in the mall, presents, shopping, food, people singing carols and so on. They must wonder what it’s all about. Christmas cards show pictures of seasonal, secular and sacred things and the many Christmas songs tell us about all these things too.
The Christmas booklet below is meant to help your students see the differences. Ideal for CLB 4 (Canadian Language Benchmarks). To go along with it, bring in old Christmas cards and let them sort them into the categories in the written material. As well, for a listening activity, let them listen to the songs in the booklet and sing along. Students enjoy music in any language. Have a very Merry Christmas with your family, friends and newcomers to Canada.