Are you looking for ideas on how to teach Christmas in Latin America in your upper elementary bilingual classroom? Get ready to embark on a festive journey filled with colorful celebrations, rich traditions, and joyful gatherings!
Teaching Christmas in Latin America is a fun way to teach biculturalism in your immersion classroom. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a virtual tour of Christmas celebrations in several Latin American countries. Get ready to discover the unique ways in which Peru, Argentina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Cuba, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile and Guatemala ring in the holiday season!
Before you read about the Christmas traditions of Latin America, I want to share with you my Christmas in Latin America reading passages. When you use my reading passages, your students will:
- Read about how Christmas is celebrated in 6 different Latin American countries in both Spanish and English
- Learn about food, decorations, gift giving, and other traditions
- Answer 4 multiple choice questions per country
- Respond to 1 open ended question per country asking students to compare that country’s traditions with their own
- Make connections with the real, full-color photographs
Christmas in Peru
Picture yourself in Peru, where Christmas is a blend of indigenous and Spanish customs. Families come together to create intricate nativity scenes, and attending “Misa del Gallo” (midnight Mass) is a must. But here’s the sweet twist—Peruvians enjoy “Panetón,” a delicious sweet bread, with a piping hot cup of hot chocolate during the holiday season. Yum!
Argentina’s Summertime Christmas
Travel down south to Argentina, where Christmas coincides with the warmth of summer. Imagine celebrating with an outdoor barbecue or picnic, surrounded by family and friends. Fireworks light up the night sky, and nativity scenes add a touch of tradition. The heartwarming “Nochebuena” feast on Christmas Eve is a highlight, complete with laughter and delicious food.
Fiesta Time in Mexico
Pack your bags and head to Mexico, where Christmas is a vibrant fiesta! The festivities kick off with “Las Posadas,” a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter. Streets come alive with colorful pinatas, poinsettias, and the mouthwatering aroma of tamales. Mexican Christmas is a sensory delight.
Dominican Republic’s Musical Celebrations
Next stop: the Dominican Republic. Imagine being swept away by music and dance during Christmas celebrations. “Las Aguinaldos,” a tradition of caroling, fills the air with melodies. Families gather for a memorable Christmas Eve feast known as “La Cena de Nochebuena,” featuring savory roast pork and aromatic moro rice.
Costa Rica’s Equine Extravaganza
Saddle up for Christmas in Costa Rica! Here, you’ll find “Tope,” lively parades featuring horseback riders. “La Misa del Gallo” is a cherished tradition, and nativity scenes are a common sight. Tantalize your taste buds with homemade “Tamales” shared among loved ones during this special time of year.
Cuba’s Parrandas and Fireworks
Our final destination is Cuba, where Christmas comes with a unique Cuban twist. Picture yourself amidst the “Parrandas,” spirited street festivals filled with music, dance, and vibrant decorations. Families gather for a festive Christmas dinner, while the night sky dazzles with breathtaking fireworks displays.
Colombia’s Luminous Christmas
Now, let’s journey to Colombia, where Christmas is a luminous affair. The streets and homes are adorned with twinkling lights and candles. Families exchange gifts on “Noche de las Velitas” (Night of the Little Candles), and “Aguinaldo” parades featuring colorful floats and traditional costumes are a sight to behold.
Venezuela’s Roller Skating Tradition
In Venezuela, Christmas kicks off with a unique tradition called “La Paradura del Niño.” Families attend Mass, and then children tie strings to their big toes and let them dangle out of the window, so passing roller-skaters can give them a playful tug. It’s a charming and playful way to celebrate.
Chile’s Misa del Gallo and Feast
In Chile, Christmas Eve is celebrated with “Misa del Gallo,” followed by a grand feast. A popular dish is “Cordero al Palo,” lamb roasted over an open flame. Families often spend the night together, and children eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus or “Viejito Pascuero.”
Guatemala’s Unique Nativity Scene Tradition
Guatemala’s Christmas traditions include creating intricate nativity scenes called Nacimientos. These are often displayed in homes and churches, showcasing local customs and traditions. Fireworks, music, and the lighting of lanterns add to the festive atmosphere.
Christmas in Latin America Reading Passages for Your Classroom
As you explore these wonderful Christmas traditions in Latin America, be sure to shop my Christmas teacher resources. I have ready-made reading passages that dive deeper into the magic of Latin American Christmas. These Christmas in Latin America worksheets are available in English, Spanish, or a bilingual bundle, making it easy to share these cultural treasures with your students.
Each reading passage comes with five comprehension questions to engage your students, making learning both fun and educational. You can use the print-and-go option with the pdf or use the included Google Slides version to assign the reading passages digitally.
Teaching Christmas in Latin America isn’t just about learning; it’s about celebrating the beauty of diversity and the joy of sharing traditions from around the world. So, let’s embrace the spirit of the season and spread the magic of Latin American Christmas in our classrooms.