Day 5

Advent Verses
Psalm 16:10 tells us He would rise from the dead and both Mark 16:6 and Acts 2:31 tell us it happened just as foretold.

Jesse Tree

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  - Genesis 9:13

Today we continue with our discussion of sin entering the world and go on to the Flood.  This can be a difficult discussion, but I appreciate today's words from RCA's devotional page - "Even in a sinful world, God still loves us and keeps His promises."  This is a simple, beautiful truth that our children can grasp.

A drawing of a rainbow is a nice ornament for today's verse.  If you are creating your own ornaments, you might enjoy painting a window sun-catcher.  These are usually easy to find and rainbows are a popular design for them.

To Explore:  Christmas Cards!
In years past, I've shared a brief history of the first official Christmas card, which I continue to share in the paragraph below. But a little research dug up a predecessor worth reading about. It was sent as a New Year's card, but the artwork shows Jesus as a little boy with a halo, clearly alluding to Christmas. This was dated 1466 and was the work of the artist known as Master E.S. from Strasbourg.

The first official Christmas card originated in England and was sent in 1843.  It was the idea of Sir Henry Cole, who wanted to send greetings and well wishes to friends and family. Rather than hand-write so many letters, he commissioned designer John Calcott Horsley to have them printed. It was printed in lithography by Jobbins of Warwick Court and included an encouragement to care for those in need.

You can see in this image of the first Christmas Card a happy family toasting to the season.  In the side panels, they are reaching out to those less fortunate with food and clothing. 

The designer, Horsley says that Cole's original idea was for an illustrated birthday card. One of Cole's cards found still intact was sent from the designer to Cole for his birthday.

It reads:
"To His good friend Cole
     Who's a merry young soul
     And a merry young soul is he
      - and may he be for years to come!

Christmas cards soon became a popular custom.  Popular artists included Kate Greenaway, Frances Brundage, and Ellen H. Clapsaddle.  An internet image search for these names reveals beautiful, intricate cards.  The custom was not seen in the United States until 1845.  For 30 years, Americans imported their cards from Europe.  In 1875, the first line of Christmas Cards was published in U.S. by Louis Prang, a German immigrant. 

At this online museum, you can view a beautiful gallery of vintage Christmas card images.

Christmas Around the World: England!

England has a rich Christmas history, including being the birthplace of Christmas cards.  It is also where we derived our custom of singing Christmas Carols to friends and neighbors, originally known as "Wassailing".  Wassailing had a very different beginning than what it is today but we'll get to that another day. 

The mistletoe originated with the Romans as a symbol of peace.  Enemies that met under the mistletoe set aside their weapons for a temporary truce.  This developed into our custom of kissing under the mistletoe and was first seen as part of the Christmas season in England.

Christmas traditions in the UK are very similar to what is celebrated in the US, with a few exceptions. British children enjoy pulling Christmas crackers found on their plates on Christmas Day.  Crackers are bright paper tubes, twisted at the ends. Children help each other pull on the ends which causes a loud pop or "crack" and reveals the contents of the tubes, usually riddles, trinket toys, and confetti.  Many also contain a party hat that must be worn for the meal.  

Pantomimes are a very popular Christmas Eve activity. YouTube has some excellent samples, this one introducing Cinderella. Even though this is produced for children, it does include British humor, so parents might want to screen first.

Another British tradition is listening to the Queen's Christmas Message, broadcast on Christmas afternoon via radio and television. Here is a clip of the Queen's message from 1984, the year Prince Harry was born:

The day after Christmas is called Boxing Day and is considered a public holiday in the UK.  It is customary to give gifts to tradesmen you encounter on this day, often celebrated now through tipping the postman, trash pick-up, etc. It is also a popular day to raise money for charity.

To read even more, check out this British Christmas Taster.

To share Christmas greetings in England, you'll blend in better if you say "Happy Christmas" rather than the American "Merry Christmas".

If you have trouble identifying the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England, you will find this fast-paced video very helpful!

  Hands On (cooking, coloring, creating)
My family enjoys taking several days to celebrate today's theme.  There are so many things to do, this unit can easily fill a week!

Christmas Crackers are a fun craft project. 
SquawkFox Tutorial
Mahalo Video Tutorial
Old English Crackers Tutorial

Be sure to include a joke printed on a slip of paper. Here are more joke ideas.

Christmas Pudding is a distinctly English Christmas fare, and adventurous activity to try with the family.

My entire family looks forward to our afternoon of making homemade Christmas cards. Our favorite cards don't contain any drawings but instead use only construction paper, scissors, and glue. It is challenging to make tiny details without coloring anything, but we all enjoy cutting out those little touches, such as whiskers for kittens and even curling steam for cut-outs of hot cocoa.  Give it a try!

Some other Christmas card ideas -
Activity Village
Tree Card at Enchanted Learning
Pop-Up Christmas Tree Card

We like to pile the table up with construction paper, scrapbooking paper, ribbons, buttons, and other embellishments. We crowd together and listen to traditional English carols or, more recently an audio of the very first Doctor Who Christmas Episode.

Flag Colouring page: Union Jack
England map work
England as part of Europe mapwork (especially good if you have time for a lesson on the U.K. and what it includes.)

A traditional English Christmas song is "I Saw Three Ships".


My primary source for researching Christmas cards was The History of the Christmas Card by Buday. It is out of print, but available used at reasonable prices: 

Santa Coloring Game

A Christmas Carol is a classic British Christmas movie, though my favorite version is quite American -

For mom

If you don't mind a bit of cheesiness, teens might appreciate the Doctor Who Christmas specials, which never fail to entertain. I love cheeze, so we enjoy these together. They are usually available on Netflix and Amazon. Every season has a Christmas episode. The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe is relatively safe for all ages, though it is a bit suspenseful so you may want to preview it first.

Grown-ups might appreciate some authentic British humor, though authentic Brit humour is generally not appropriate for children.