Sharing St. Basil’s Blessings…

Ace’s class was doing a Christmas around the world project and his teacher asked me to come in and do a project with the class. We had done a fun Thanksgiving craft with beads last month and so she wanted something similar.

So I looked up Christmas traditions in several different countries and we made necklaces with the correlating beads.

I printed this out and gave one to each student:

Learn how to say Merry Christmas in 8 different languages and get a peek into how children from all over the world celebrate Christmas!

Germany: Fröhliche Weihnachten; tan bead for origin of gingerbread and green bead for the origin of the Christmas tree.

Greece:Kala Christouyena; Gold bead for the coin hidden in bread by St. Basil to help the poor without offending them with charity.

Romanian: Sarbatori vesele; bell for the church bells that ring on Christmas morning.

Venezuela:Feliz Navidad; purple bead for tradition of the 12 grapes that they put into their glass symbolizing the 12 days of Christmas. (Dec.26-Jan 6)

Slovakia: Vesele Vianoce; brown bead for potatoes left by St. Nicholas for bad children.

Ukraine: Srozhdestvom Kristovym; white bead for kutya, the traditional pudding made from wheatberries, honey and poppy seeds.Ingredients symbolize hope, happiness, and good sleep.

Slovenia: Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Novo leto; black bead for boots left outside for St. Nicholas to fill with treats.

Ireland: Nollaig Shona Dhuit; yellow bead for the candle they lit in their windows every Christmas Eve to remind us a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they traveled looking for shelter.

The whole world: glow in the dark star bead for the Star of Bethlehem—the birth of Christ—a light for those in darkness.

I figured they learned plenty about what everyone else believed and should have the opportunity to be reminded of what Christmas was really about. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous that the teacher would inconspicuously hush me in the middle of this (or never ask me to come back after I finished!) but she really loved it.

I also told them the story of St. Basil hiding the gold coins in the bread and brought a Vasilopita for them to share.

The kids waiting to get their piece of Vasilopita!

Look! Someone got it!

The proud winner!

The students and the teachers all loved it! The teachers loved it so much that I made another one and sent it, along with the history behind it, for the teacher’s to cut during their lunch hour. When I went that afternoon to pick him up almost every teacher I passed told me what a beautiful tradition and delicious cake it was. Glory to God! May St. Basil intercede for us!


7 thoughts on “Sharing St. Basil’s Blessings…

  1. Good idea! But Vasilopita is really for New Year's and not Christmas. Still, the kids don't know and it's nice to get some Christian traditions out there. There was even a Highlights article about the Vasilopita last year

  2. Kim,Yes, it is for New Year's but they won't be in school at that time and I really wanted to share this tradition with them. Also, in Greece they never really celebrated gifts at Christmas until recently, Agios Vasili's feast was the equivalent to American Christmas (so to speak) so I sort of tied that into my explanation. :)I *love* that Highlights article! It gives a multicultural point of view instead of a religious one, making it appropriate for schools, etc! :)Have you ever heard of this book? It's my favorite about the story of the Vasilopita:

  3. Oh, I hope I didn't sound like I was criticizing! I think it's wonderful to share the Vasilopita with the children around Christmas time! I was very excited to see the Highlights article last year. I haven't seen the book, but I'll definitely check it out. In my Sunday School class (I teach 6 and 7 year olds) we always go over some of the different stories about the origins of Vasilopita and cut our own Vasilopita just before our parish's annual Vasilopita celebration so the kids will remember the meaning before they get so excited about the coin. Last year, I gave them copies of the Highlights story to share with their friends

  4. Kim,No! You didn't sound criticizing at all! Forgive me if I gave you that impression somehow!I actually wanted to post that it was traditionally a New Year's tradition because I figured people would wonder but I completely forgot! 🙂 That's wonderful that you share the article and the tradition with your Sunday School class. I think if we keep Highlight's article along it will encourage them to print more "Orthodox" traditions! A very Merry Christmas to you!

  5. Oh good, Sylvia. I realized I may have sounded critical and I didn't want to come across that way. The Internet doesn't always let us come across like our usual agreeable selves. A very merry Christmas to you too!

  6. Me and my family we are going to a Greek Orthodox Church in Las Vegas. Today, January 12, 2014, the Priestess used the tradition of Saint Basil The Great, by giving a piece of the bread cutit as a cake size (for which they have prayed) only and only to selected Greek people from the Church including some of the selected children. All other Church members (other Greeks or different nationalities) didn’t get not even one piece from it.
    What are your thoughts and opinions regarding this matter?

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