During the Advent season, the first grade students at St. Jude School spent time learning about the Christmas traditions in Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland, and Russia. The students worked for weeks on projects and activities, including coloring maps of the countries and learning a few words and phrases of the languages. The culminating activity in the Day Room was a celebration where parents presented displays and foods from these countries.
The Irish area included mincemeat pies, a holly wreath, shortbread cookies, soda bread, and Jammie Dodgers. Each child also made a pomander of cloves and an orange. A display in the Italian area featured pictures of Italian landmarks, the flag of Italy, Italian phrases, geographic information, and religious Christmas traditions. The students were able to taste pizzelles and each child made a pasta wreath to take home.
The German table featured lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies) and tree ornaments that the students decorated with buttons. They learned that trees are usually decorated on Christmas Eve with items found in the home. At the Poland display, the students were told that the Polish people put a piece of hay under their tablecloth to symbolize Jesus being born in a manger and that they eat twelve different foods representing the twelve apostles. Father Christmas visits twice a year, on December 6 and Christmas Eve.
One of several treats at the Russian table was blinchkie, a type of thin pancake. The students learned about Ded Moroz, which is Russian for Santa Claus, who brings the children gifts on New Year’s Day, not Christmas. They also heard about Matryoshka, the sets of usually handmade, beautifully decorated wooden dolls placed inside each other.