12.09.2011

Christmas Around the World: Austria





Yesterday we continued this year's study of Christmas Around the World by exploring traditions in Ukraine and Poland, and today we took a look at another European country: Austria.




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AUSTRIA



Literature:
  • Look What Came from Austria by Kevin Davis
  • Discovering Cultures: Austria by Deborah Grahame
  • An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
  • Silent Night: The Song and Its Story by Margaret Hodges
Curiously, and as happened with some countries last year as well, our library lacked books specifically about Christmas customs in Austria, even though the holiday is obviously prominent there. And, beyond noting that traditions in Austria are similar to those in Germany, even Celebrate Christmas Around the World (CCAW) didn't contain a great deal of information.

I made the best of the situation by skimming through pictures in the books by Davis and Grahame, briefly describing them in order to introduce Austria to the girls, and then orally sharing information from CCAW. After that. we read the dePaola book (As a side note, I don't think I've ever read a dePaola book that I've disliked!), because, though it describes a German family who has immigrated to America, it beautifully illustrates many Christmas customs that Austrians share, too. And then we read the Hodges book, which is a wonderful, engaging story and provides some insight into Austrian culture.

    Craft:
    Unfortunately, CCAW did not offer a craft idea, and I didn't find any in the other books either.
    However, since German and Austrian traditions are similar, you could do one of the two crafts from my Germany post.

    But, since we did those last year, I decided instead to simply have the girls each create a drawing or painting to illustrate some of the "Silent Night" lyrics. I allowed each girl to use the media of her choice, and they created some beautiful pieces.

    Alternately, you could have your children make Christmas tree ornaments as they do in Austria - various paper shapes and/or by painting nuts.


    Other Activities:
    • On Christmas morning, each Austrian child apparently receives an unwrapped gift that he believes was left by Christkind, the Christ Child. To imitate the tradition, I gave each girl a small gift - a set of bejeweled barrettes - in plain brown boxes. I also gave them the option of later decorating the boxes with sequins, glitter, and craft jewels;
    • We watched "The Sound of Music" in the afternoon;
    • We, of course, sang (and discussed the lyrics of) "Silent Night."

    Food:
    Austrians "eat a large meal of roast goose with all the trimmings" (CCAW, 11) on Christmas Day, but we decided to keep it simple by serving strudel at breakfast and gingerbread cookies for snack.


    Language Arts:
    Each girl continued her Christmas Around the World booklet, directions for which are available here under the Language Arts heading.

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    Photo Credits: cindy251978 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindyandmike/5235595925/) and Wien-Vienna (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wien-vienna/6372284077/).

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