Initial conversations were often driven by the child's observations of what we don't have: snow, snowmen, reindeer, holly, mistletoe, etc. Which led to the question of what we have instead. Some of my students were quick to say "Australian Christmas tree" (Nuytsia - as seen in the title picture) which is one of my favourites.
The Nuytsia is native to the lower part of Western Australia and blooms between November and January. My older students were fascinated by the fact this plant is partly a root parasite, meaning it's roots attach to other plants around it and draw it's requirements from them. We also discussed other native plants that flowered at this time of year.
Another natural phenomenon we discussed was the Christmas spider. Again these spiders are most abundant during the summer months.
We talked about how certain plants and animals are more abundant at different times of the year and how our First Nations people observed these plants and animals to note the change in the season. In the part of Western Australia we reside in our First Nations people are Noongar, and they observed six seasons rather than the four we follow marked by the solstices. I hope this will be a spring board for further discussion next year.
We have also been discussing traditions and why our traditions are a lot different than those that are represented by television programs, Christmas cards, illustrated Christmas books, etc.
Here are some of the things children listed as part of their Christmas day traditions:
- presents in the morning, baked ham and vegetables for lunch
- beach in the morning, home for a barbecue lunch (with prawns and crayfish) then presents
- presents on Christmas eve, Christmas day at the beach
- traditional roast turkey and ham with all of the family at grandma's
- poolside at a Bali resort
- presents in the morning, barbecue lunch and prawns with salads for lunch.
- breakfast with the family consisting of fruit salad, pancakes, bacon, sausage and eggs, then presents and family dinner of roast turkey
If I was in a classroom setting, and had more time, I would ask my older children to research some aspects of their traditions to the various parts of Europe they originate.
What is unique about your Christmas?