Merry Christmas Everywhere!, by Arlene Erlbach with Herb Erlbach,
illustrated by Sharon Lane Holm
(2002, The Millbrook Press, ISBN 0-7613-1956-5)
Are your kids curious about how other countries celebrate Christmas? This is an excellent book to sate their curiosity (or whet their appetite for more)!
Merry Christmas Everywhere! tells a traditional greeting and some information about the way Christmas is celebrated in twenty countries from Australia to Serbia. On the pages about each country, readers will also find simple instructions for a craft or treat that is typical of that country, such as Christmas crowns from Great Britain and cesnica (chez-NEETZ-zuh) from Serbia, little bits of trivia, and a world map indicating the location of the country. Pronunciations are given for unfamiliar words and greetings in languages other than English (although I disagree with the emphasis in the Spanish pronunciation of Feliz Navidad). Some of the traditions, like the Advent calendar featured for Germany, are likely familiar to American readers, but others, including the parols (three-dimensional paper stars) from the Philippines, are probably new. The information and crafts are geared toward early elementary aged students, but parents and teachers could probably find ways of using the book with preschool and upper elementary students as well. (I plan on letting GirlChild choose a craft or two from the pictures for us to read more about and create ourselves.)
Among other sources, the author acknowledges individuals and the consulates and embassies of various countries featured in the book. The introduction gives a brief explanation of the Christian celebration of Christmas before the country-specific traditions are shared. The book also includes a table of contents and a bibliography. Because the illustrations in this book are drawings instead of photographs, it doesn’t look as outdated as many of the books about Christmas celebrations in other countries I’ve seen, so it is a valuable resource. You’ll want to try to find this book in a local library instead of buying it for yourself because it is out of print and used copies are selling for really incredible prices online!
(There are multiple series that focus on Christmas in one country at a time; check your library’s nonfiction section in the 394.2 area for more nonfiction Christmas books (including anthologies) and 394.2663 for Christmas celebrations by country.)