Merry TEFL Christmas: Christmas Around the World!
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Travelling is undoubtedly one of the major attractions for people to become teachers of English as a foreign language. After all, who wouldn’t want to get paid to travel around the world and tick places off your bucket list? But as much as we hate to say it, there are a few downfalls to this nomadic lifestyle, and the biggest one has to be time spent away from family and friends. Of course, we will make new friends but there are definitely times during the year when we just want to be close to those near and dear to us.
And of all the birthday celebrations and festivals and holidays that we might miss, for many of us, Christmas can be the hardest. Which is why we want to introduce you to a TEFL Christmas!
Read more: Top 3 Ways to Make Friends While Abroad
A merry TEFL Christmas!
On the flip side, while we might miss a few celebrations with our friends and family back home, don’t forget that your new life will also give you new celebrations. From Songkran in Thailand to the Day of the Dead in Mexico, there are endless possibilities to take your mind off what you may be missing at home.
In the same way, even if we can’t be at home for Christmas, there is probably some sort of celebration wherever you are that you can adopt for the festive season. So let’s look at a few of the Christmas traditions around the world that you may find yourself a part of.
Holy Nativity Fast, Egypt
For 43 days before Christmas, Egyptian Christians participate in the Holy Nativity Fast, which is a vegan diet. On Christmas Eve, there is a mass which can last from 10.30 pm until as late as 4 am. After the mass, everyone goes home to celebrate with a Christmas feast which includes all the foods forbidden during the fast.
St Nicholas Day, Germany
On the night of December 5th, children all over Germany dutifully polish their shoes and leave them outside their doors. In the morning, they wake to find their shoes filled with sweets, nuts, and gifts.
Read more: Teach English in Germany
Samichlaus and Schmutzli, Switzerland
On the 6th of December, Samichlaus visits the children of Switzerland and hands out fruits, cookies, and chocolate. But he is not alone. He is accompanied by his helper Schmutzli, who wears a black robe and has a dark beard. He carries an empty bag and his job is to remind the children to be good throughout the year.
St. Lucia’s Day, Sweden
On 13 December, Swedes celebrate St. Lucia’s Day. On this day, which marks the beginning of the Christmas festivities, the eldest daughter in the family gets up before dawn. She dresses in a long, white dress, symbolising the patron saint of light who the day is named after. She must go to each family member in the house and serve them coffee and treats with the help of any younger siblings.
13 Yule Lads, Iceland
Iceland celebrates 13 days of Christmas. Each night before Christmas, Icelandic children will put their shoes by their windows. During the night they will be visited by the 13 Yule Lads who will leave either candy or rotten potatoes in their shoes, depending on their behaviour.
The Night of the Little Candles, Colombia
Colombians celebrate 7 December as the start of the festive season. On this night they celebrate Mary and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by lighting up their houses and streets with millions of little candles in paper lanterns.
La Quema del Diablo, Guatemala
Also on 7 December, at sunset, Guatemalans gather at sunset to burn an effigy of the devil. Bonfires are lit in plazas around the country for the burning, which is believed to cleanse their homes of all the negative happenings of the year.
Las Posadas, Mexico
Between 16 and 24 December, the festival of Las Posadas is celebrated across Mexico. Children dress in robes and walk in a procession, stopping at houses along the way for refreshments. This is to symbolise Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Adults follow the children and musicians provide music along the route. On the last night, the children celebrate by breaking open pinãtas filled with sweets and toys.
The Giant Lantern Festival, Philipines
On the Saturday before Christmas Eve, the city of San Fernando holds the Giant Lantern Festival. Eleven villages take part in a competition to build the best (read: most elaborate) lantern. While originally the lanterns were made from origami paper and lit by a candle, today the lanterns can measure up to six meters in diameter and are lit by electric bulbs. They truly are a sight to behold.
Misa de Gallo, Costa Rica
Because the majority of the population in Costa Rica is Roman Catholic, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve is a very important occasion. Called Misa de Gallo, or the Mass of the Rooster, it is followed by a meal of pork and chicken tamales wrapped in plantain leaves.
Christmas Eve, Poland
In Poland, on Christmas Eve, families wait until the first star has appeared in the sky before they eat dinner together. They eat oplatek (a wafer), with each person breaking off a piece as they wish each other Merry Christmas. An extra place is set at the table for any uninvited guests.
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Giving apples, China
Only 1% of the Chinese population is Christian, but this doesn’t stop them from celebrating Christmas! As the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic Christmas trees and decorations, the major Chinese cities are decorated every year to mark the occasion. Though Christmas Day itself is largely uneventful (except for the ex-pats there), many Chinese people give each other a gift of apples.
KFC Dinner, Japan
While historically the Japanese don’t really celebrate Christmas – with only a small percentage of the population being Christian – lately a new tradition has become popular, and it’s quite a simple one. Instead of a turkey or mince pies or mulled wine, a Japanese Christmas dinner is now a smorgasbord of all things Kentucky Fried Chicken. It all started in 1974 with a KFC marketing campaign which promoted Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner, and the tradition still continues today. In fact, an estimated 3.6 million families in Japan enjoy some of the Colonel’s festive fried chicken for Christmas dinner each year.
In Ethiopia, Christmas is celebrated on 7 January. On this day, people dress in traditional white cotton cloths with brightly coloured stripes at the ends.
Boxing Day, South Africa
Many people find it strange that the southern hemisphere celebrates Christmas in summer but the South Africans know how to take advantage of the good weather. Christmas Day is usually celebrated by the poolside and families often gather at outdoor venues to sing carols by candlelight. Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, is spent at the beach.
As you can see, Christmas is done quite differently in different parts of the world. If you are celebrating Christmas abroad, make sure you find out what your local community does to celebrate this time of year, and be sure to take part in communal celebrations. So even if you can’t be at home, you can still feel at home.
EFL Christmas lesson ideas
Of course, if you are in the classroom this festive season, why not include an few Christmas activities in your lessons. Here are some tried-and-tested EFL Christmas lesson ideas:
If you teach Young Learners, you can dedicate a lesson to creating your own Christmas cards. Start by teaching vocabulary related to Christmas imagery, such as Christmas trees, Father Christmas, presents, stars, reindeer….whatever you can think of. Your students can then use these as ideas for their Christmas cards, which can be taken home and given to their families.
This is a fun lesson even for those students who don’t celebrate Christmas. Elicit from your students that Christmas is a time when we give gifts to people we care about. Write down the names of your students on little pieces of paper. Hand out these pieces of paper to the students. Whoever’s name they are given, they must decide what gift they would buy this person for Christmas and why.
Encourage them to be creative! They must write the present and their reason on the piece of paper with the student’s name. The teacher gives the papers back to their original owners so they can read what gifts they have been given. Finally, they must guess who gave them that gift.
Christmas songs provide great listening activities for this time of year. You can use the traditional Christmas carols, like Jingle Bells or Silent Night or you can update your selection with contemporary songs like Do They Know It’s Christmas, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town or Last Christmas. Create activities like gap-fills or ordering the sentences for the students to do while they listen.
Holidays around the world
Even though Christmas is a universally recognisable holiday, there are many other holidays which may be more important to your students. Find out what holidays your students celebrate and write them on the board. Get your students to come up with questions they want to ask about those holidays. Arrange your students into groups so that they can discuss the different holidays with each other.
Christmas is a fun time of year for the classroom. It’s nice to take a break from the usual syllabus work and do something a bit different. Use these activity ideas to bring some festive cheer into your classroom.
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We’ll use your personal information to send you direct marketing and to better identify products and services that interest you. We do that if you’re one of our customers or if you’ve been in touch with us another way (such as registering to attend an ELEARNING FUTURES LTD event).
This means we’ll:
- create a profile about you to better understand you as a customer and tailor the communications we send you (including our marketing messages);
- tell you about other products and services you might be interested in;
- try to identify products and services you’re interested in; and
We use the following for marketing and to identify the products and services you’re interested in.
- Your contact details. This includes your name, gender, address, phone number, date of birth and email address.
- Information from cookies and tags placed on your connected devices.
- Information from other organisations such as aggregated demographic data and publicly available sources like the electoral roll and business directories.
- Details of the products and services you’ve bought and how you use them.
We’ll send you information (about the products and services we provide) by phone, post, email, text message, online banner advertising. We also use the information we have about you to personalise these messages wherever we can as we believe it is important to make them relevant to you. We do this because we have a legitimate business interest in keeping you up to date with our products and services. We also check that you are happy for us to send you marketing messages before we do so. In each message we send, you also have the option to opt-out.
We’ll only market other organisations’ products and services if you have said it is OK for us to do so.
You can ask us to stop sending you marketing information or withdraw your permission at any time.
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD retains personal information in line with our corporate retention requirements. Your data will be stored within the European Economic Area (“the EEA”) (The EEA consists of all EU member states, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). However, in some circumstances, part or all of your data may be stored or transferred outside of the European Economic Area (“the EEA”). You are deemed to accept and agree to this by using our site and submitting information to us. If we do store or transfer data outside the EEA, we will take all reasonable steps to ensure that your data is treated as safely and securely as it would be within the EEA and under the GDPR. Such steps may include, but not be limited to, the use of legally binding contractual terms between us and any third parties we engage with, and the use of the EU-approved Model Contractual Arrangements. If we intend at any time to transfer any of your data outside the EEA, we will always obtain your consent beforehand.
Right to access personal information
- Under the law, any individual has a right to ask for a copy of the personal information held about them. This means that you can ask for the information that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD holds about you. This is known as the right of ‘subject access’.
- When making a request you will need to give us:
- a request in writing (by post or by email)
- We may need to ask you to provide:
- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.