The Nativity Play recreates the scene of Jesus’ birth in the stable and tells of how Mary and Joseph were visited by the Shepherds and Wise Men. The parts of Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Wise Men are played by the children. In our school, the Year 3 children perform a Nativity to the whole school and to proud parents.
St Francis of Assisi (pictured left) is said to have created the first Nativity performance in Italy in about 1223. In those days, many people were unable to read or write so they couldn't read the Christmas story in the bible themselves. Also many of the church services were in Latin which they didn't understand.
St Francis decided to change all that. He wanted not only to tell the story of the first Christmas but to show people what it must have been like on that night in Bethlehem when Jesus what born so he set up a nativity scene. He got hold of some live animals, a manger and some hay. Then he asked people from his village to take the parts of Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds.
Traditional Christmas Decorations:
Why do we decorate our houses at Christmas time?
To celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas Day many people decorate their homes.
Red and green are the traditional colours of Christmas.
Green represents the continuance of life through the winter and the Christian belief in eternal life through Jesus.
Red symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed at His Crucifixion.
Christmas decorations used to be put up on Christmas Eve and not before. Indeed, many people believed that it was extremely unlucky to bring evergreens, the traditional item to decorate homes, into the house before that date.
Most houses in Britain, will have a tree of some sort or other which they will decorate and will place the presents under.
The Christmas tree became popular in England in 1841 when Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, brought a Christmas tree over from Germany and put it in Windsor Castle. The Royal couple were illustrated in a newspaper standing around the Christmas tree with their children, and the tradition of decorating a tree became fashionable.
Where is the most famous Christmas tree in Britain?
In London, near the statue of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square, a giant Christmas tree is set up and decorated with great ceremony each year. The tree is a thank you gift from the people of Oslo, Norway. During the Second World War, King Haakon of Norway was forced into exile in England when the Germans occupied his country. Since 1947, Norway has expressed its thanks for the help of the British people by continuing to send a huge Norwegian spruce to be shared by all
Christmas Eve (December 24) is traditionally the day for decorating churches and homes. It marks the beginning of the period formally known as Christmas-tide.
What happens on Christmas Eve in Britain?
Night time on Christmas Eve is a very exciting time for young children. It is the time when Father Christmas (Santa) comes.
The children leave mince pies and brandy for Father Christmas, and a carrot for the reindeer.
From 1870, children have hung up Christmas stockings at the ends of their beds or along the mantelpiece above the fireplace. Children hang Christmas stockings or bags up ready for Father Christmas, who will hopefully fill them up with presents, if the children have been good.
Why do the children hang up Christmas stockings?
Father Christmas once dropped some gold coins while coming down the chimney. The coins would have fallen through the ash grate and been lost if they hadn't landed in a stocking that had been hung out to dry. Since that time children have continued to hang out stockings in hopes of finding them filled with gifts.
Father Christmas is our version of Santa Claus. He is an old jolly man with white hair, a beard and a moustache. He is dressed in a red suit outlined in white. Father Christmas and his elves make all the toys for Christmas in his home in the North Pole.
Santa Claus is based on a real person, St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas, or Sinter Klaas in Dutch, was a very shy man and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children's stockings.
Christmas presents are opened on Christmas Day.Opening Christmas Stocking Presents
Christmas Day is the favourite day for children. They wake up very early in the morning to find their stockings have been filled by Father Christmas and excitedly unwrap the presents before going down to breakfast.
A traditional feature of Christmas afternoon is the Queen's Christmas Message. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the Queen gives her Christmas Message to the nation which is broadcast on radio and television.
The Queen's message is also broadcast throughout the British Commonwealth. The first televised broadcast of the Queen's Christmas message was in 1957, but it is a tradition begun on the radio in 1932 by George V. f projectbritain.com
The Queen has made a Christmas Broadcast to the Commonwealth every year of her reign except 1969, when a repeat of the film `Royal Family' was shown and a written message from The Queen issued.
In 2007, The Queen launched her own channel on video-sharing website YouTube, which featured the message.
A Christmas Cracker is a brightly coloured paper tube, twisted at both ends. A person pulls on each end of the cracker and when the cracker breaks, a small chemical strip goes “Pop” and the contents fall out. copyright of projectbritain.com
Christmas Cracker on a plate
Crackers are very traditional items to have at Christmas.
What is inside a Christmas Cracker?
A Christmas cracker traditionally contains a paper crown, a small gift and a joke written on a slip of paper.
The gift in a cracker depends on how much you have paid for the cracker.The more you pay the better the quality of the gift.
A box of 12 crackers costing £10 could come with gifts such as a shoe horn, compact mirror, playing cards, screwdrivers, address book, tape measure, pad lock, bottle opener, tweezers, travel chess, photo frame and pen.How to pull a cracker
The traditional way to pull a cracker is crossing your arms and ..
... pulling a whole circle of crackers around the table.
Everyone holds their cracker in their right hand and pulls their neighbours cracker with the free left hand.
Why do we wear king's paper crowns?
We wear paper hats on special occasions like Chritsmas Day and birthday parties. The tradition of wearing hats at parties goes back to the Roman Saturnalia celebrations (celebrated around 25 December) when the participants also wore hats. comThe idea of wearing a paper crown may have originated from the Twelfth Night celebrations, where a King or Queen was appointed to look over the proceedings. copyright of projectbritain.comThe paper crown hats we wear today are found inside the Christmas crackers.
Who invented the Christmas Cracker?
Christmas crackers were invented by Thomas Smith in 1846.
During a visit to Paris he came across the bob-bon, a sugar almond wrapped in tissue paper (with a twist either side of the centrally placed sweet). Thomas decided to try selling similarly wrapped sweets in the lead up to Christmas in England. His bon-bons sold well at Christmas but not at other times of the year.
In the early 1850s Thomas came up with the idea of including a motto with the sweet. As many of his bon-bons were bought by men to give to women, many of the mottos were simple love poems
In about 1860, Thomas added the banger, two strips of chemically impregnated paper that made a loud noise on being pulled apart. At first these novelties were called 'cosaques', but they soon became known as 'crackers'.
Unfortunately for Thomas, his 'cracker' idea was copied by other manufactures and so he decided to replace the sweet with a surprise gift. When Thomas died his two sons took over the business. The paper hat was added to the cracker the early 1900s and by the end of the 1930s the love poems had been replaced by jokes or limericks.
When is Boxing Day?
In Britain, Boxing Day is usually celebrated on the following day after Christmas Day, which is 26 December. However, strictly speaking, Boxing Day is the first weekday after Christmas (see definition in the Oxford English Dictionary).
Like Christmas Day, Boxing Day is a public holiday. This means it is typically a non working day in the whole of Britain. When Boxing Day falls on a Saturday or Sunday the following Monday is the public holiday.
Why is 26 December called Boxing Day?
Traditionally, 26 December was the day to open the Christmas Box to share the contents with the poor.
from: www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk and www.projectbritain.com