Origins of Christmas Symbols & Traditions Lapbook

This is a lapbook I researched and put together for my 8 year old son, Yusef during the end of December and early January. He is old enough to fully understand now that living in the UK, people have different religious and cultural backgrounds and celebrate different festivals. 

Having come from a non-Muslim background, my parents are not religious but they do celebrate Christmas and this is something that my children are aware of. Year upon year they come to recognise the signs that Christmas is coming … decorations in the street, images of Christmas Trees and Santa Claus in the shops etc and even though we don’t celebrate Christmas ourselves, they are very aware that this celebration takes place annually and I felt it was time they got a better understanding of this celebration and its relevance to those who celebrate it.

The idea of this lapbook is to teach the basic beliefs of Christians and the significance of Christmas to them as well as to explain the meaning and origins of various traditions and symbols that also represent Christmas and how most, if not all of these traditions reach as far back as Ancient Rome and Pagan Europe.

We also did comparisons between our Islamic beliefs and the beliefs of others and refered to quotes and references from Islamic, Christian and Pagan sources.

 I printed off the various templates to make the minibooks from the Homeschool Helper Website. You can download all the templates and information links in one file HERE.

When the lapbook opens out you can see the many different minibooks included.

This is a shutterbook about the story of the Nativity. Inside Yusef wrote about the Christian beliefs and the story of the birth of Jesus as the Son of God. We then discussed the differences in the Islamic story of his birth and looked at quotes from the Quran that teach that Jesus was a prophet and not the Son of God.

Next is a small cross book which explains the Nativity in more detail with Christians beliefs explained on one side of the page and Islamic beliefes explained on the opposite side.

This is a small flap about the Star of Bethlehem. Yusef realised that stars are often used to top the Christmas tree and we learned that the traditions represents this star which is significant to the story of the Nativity.

Here is a book about Angels, also significant to Christian beliefs, they hailed the birth of the Son of God according to the Nativity.

This small accordion book is all about Candy Canes which are traditionally eaten and used as decorations at Christmas time. Some people believe that the upside down cane looks like the letter ‘J’ representing the name of Jesus. Yusef wrote on the reverse of the accordion book about the history of the first candy canes, made in 1600 and handed out to children in church. The idea is that the cane represents the crook of the shepherds mentioned in the Nativity.

This is a circle book that talks about mince pies and how they were originally linked to Christian celebrations.

Here is a shutterbook about Christmas Crackers. Yusef wrote about the invention of the Christmas Cracker and gave details of what is included in a cracker. Even I was surprised to discover that the significance of the paper crown traditions stems back to the times of the festival of Saturnalia celebrated by the Ancient Romans.

This is a mini tag book shaped like a Christmas stocking. Inside Yusef wrote about how Christmas stockings first came to be used.

Similarly, this flapbook explains the origin of some European practises of leaving out shoes instead of stockings. These traditions date back to the Norse practises of the Gemanic and Scandinavian Pagans of ancient Europe.

This is a small stack book about Santa Claus. We read a great deal of information on Wikipedia and it seems that there are a number of origins for the man known as Santa Claus. Some stem from Norse Mythology, but most commonly known is the story of the Christian man who later became known as Saint Nicholas because his kindness towards the poor people in his town.

Next is a gift-shaped tag book explaining the origin behind giving gifts at Christmas. This tradition dates as far back as the Ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was celebrated by giving gifts to one another as well as to the gods between 23rd and 27th December. More commonly known is the tradition of giving gifts that represent the giving of gifts to Jesus by the Magian kings.

This sheet with pull out gingerbread men looks at the origins of gingerbread and how it became linked to Christian celebrations after the ginger spice was brought back to Europe and the UK by the Crusaders returning from the Middle East.

This is a flip tag all about wreaths and how they are rooted in the ancient beliefs and practises of the European pagans who would gather evergreens and light fires during the winter solstice in the hope of welcoming the arrival of the new Spring.

This is a pizza fold book that explains in further detail the meaning of the candles and how the wreath became intertwined with Christian beliefs. The lighting of the candles represents the expected arrival of the Son of God and the centre candle represents the night of his birth, i.e. Christmas Eve.

This little flap talks about ornaments and decorations such as baubles which are used to decorate Christmas trees. This practise came originally from the Christian tradition of bringing a tree into the church and decorating it with apples to represent the Tree of Paradise. Later baubles took the place of the apples.

This little flap book discusses Christmas trees. The practise of bringing ever greens into the home dates back as far as Ancient Egypt! The Christmas tree is a feature in many homes at Christmas time in both religious and non-religious households, but we were surprised to learn that the Christian Bible actually condemns the practise of bringing trees into the home and decorating them, likening this tradition to the way of the pagans.

This flap book talks about the Yule Log which is a tradition more common in Europe than in the UK now. The Yule Log dates back to the time of the European pagans who would select and burn a particulary hard log that would burn continously believed to ward of evil spirits and represent the hope that the dark days of winter would pass and the new spring would arrive.

This flap is all about Wassailing. This is a practise that I had never heard of until I read about it whilst researching for this lapbook. It is actually a tradition that dates backs to the time of the Saxons and was then intertwined with Christmas. Wassail is an alcohol drink that is consumed and shared at Christmas with the greeting of “Waes Hael!” which is Old English meaning “Be Well!”
We took the time to discuss what alcohol was, the effects if can have on the body and why it is forbidden in Islam.

Next is a shutterbook about holly, a commonly used decoration at Christmas time. We learned that this plant was revered by the Ancient Romans and was specifically linked to their god, Saturn. We also learned how holly was important to European Pagans and later became significant to Christians who believed the green leaves represent the eternal life of Jesus as the Son of God and the red berries represent the blood spilled when he was crucified, according to Christian beliefs.

Finally is a flap about Christmas Cards. Yusef wrote about who invented Christmas cards and why they were invented as well as the many different scenes that are depicted on Christmas Cards.

Below are some of the links we used for the references to make this lapbook:

4 comments on “Origins of Christmas Symbols & Traditions Lapbook

  1. This is wonderful maashaaAllaah and very important indeed. Christmas time can be so appealing to young children, it is so important we teach them where some of these practises come from and how they go against the teachings of islaam. May Allaah bless you for your hard work and your children for their efforts aameen.

  2. Excellent and well researched. It’s been a real eye opener. May you be rewarded for all your hard work and efforts.

  3. Assalamu alaikum sister, i am really thankful to Allah, for making me enjoy this wonderful work done by your son. It helps me to educate my kids who go to public school here. Jazakallah khair. May Allah accept your good deeds, Ameen.

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