Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent Reading Week 4

We wrapped up our Advent reading today.  The Littles were disappointed.  They  LOVED.  LOVED.  LOVED.  the theme reading this year!

During our Christmas Around the World theme reading this week, we hung out in North America with three books.

United States of America (the state of New Mexico) :  The Santero's Miracle, A Bilingual Story  (written by Rudolfo Anaya).

A santero is a person who carves saints.  Don Jacobo is blessed with the talent of being an expert santero.  He and his wife live nestled in a village that lays in a valley of the mountains of northern New Mexico.  Their grandson, Andres,  has been staying with them for the past week helping out on the farm and learning techniques of a santero.  A couple of days prior to Christmas a huge snowstorm blankets that valley making the roads impassible.

Adres is worried that his parents and sister won't be able to make the drive in from Taos to celebrate Christmas with his grandparents.  Don Jacobo is worried about his very ill neighbor.  The ambulance cannot make it through with the roads being so covered in snow.

It seems as though only a miracle will help these villagers out.  Christmas Eve morning finds their prayers answered!

Again, we are introduced to a large vocabulary of Spanish words and shown the beautiful customs of the Hispanic culture.  This is a beautiful story of faith, customs, and Christmas miracles.

Canada:  The Huron Carol  (written by Ian Wallace)

This is actually a beautiful Christmas song that has a rich history reaching back to the 1600's when Father Jean de Brebeuf came to Canada from his native France as a Jesuit missionary.  He lived among the Huron people in what is now Midland, Ontario.  Father Brefeuf not only learned the Huron language but wrote the first Huron dictionary, and converted the Huron to Christians.  He wrote, in Huron, the original version of this Christmas song.  He and his fellow priests and many of their Huron parishioners were killed in an Iroquois raid in 1649.

In 1926, Toronto writer Jesse Edgar Middleton, inspired by Father Jean de Brefeuf, wrote his own version of the Huron Christmas Carol.   He added his own version in English.  The book includes Middleton's version, a French version and the Huron version.

Southwestern United States / Mexico:  The Night of Las Posadas (written by Tomie DePaola).

This is not new to my Littles, but was on the list of books for the theme.  

Las Posadas is actually a traditional Spanish custom brought to Mexico and is celebrated for nine days, from December 16-24.  It is a processional representing Joseph and Mary on their journey to Bethlehem, looking for a room at the inn.  For nine nights, families will walk in the procession knocking on doors only to find them shut or told there is no room.  Finally, on Christmas Eve a door opens and all are welcomed in for cookies and hot chocolate.

Sister Angie has been organizing their church Las Posadas in the town of old Santa Fe, New Mexico for over 50 years!  This year she is too sick to attend.  The Las Posadas must still go on.  Or will it?  A terrible snowstorm hits the mountains but the villagers will experience a miracle before the night is over.  Sister Angie witnesses her own special miracle in the church across the street from the convent that same night.

The kids were excited to see the term Santero maker in this story after reading about a santero in The Santero's Miracle.

We also learned about how Las Posadas is celebrated in San Antonio, Texas.  I told them it would be wonderful to see the San Antonio celebration one of these years.  

Last year, we took the kids over to our own parish to witness the Las Posadas procession.  A great experience for anyone if you ever have the chance!


That wraps up our Christmas Around the World theme for this year.  As I mentioned, they were disappointed it was over.  They really enjoyed learning about so many other customs from around the world.  

I already know what I want to do for next year's Advent and Christmas reading.  Cay Gibson's Christmas Mosaic, where I took this year's theme from,  has a theme on Jan Brett's Christmas books.  I think the Littles will really enjoy that theme.  Her illustrations can captivate the mind of children ages 0-99!

Advent blessings!

~  Patty  ~


  1. Thank you for sharing this lovely journey, Patty! I really appreciate that you took time to let us know a little bit about each book. That will be helpful to new beginners:) Your children must truly be enriched!

  2. I love your Christmas around the world theme! For the past 3 years we have done a Christmas around the world study with my sister's kids. (Mexico, Sweden, St. Nicholas/Turkey) This year, due to busy schedules, we did not get to add another country on. Next year, we might just follow your lead and travel the world.

    Two books that we enjoyed from our year of learning about traditions from Mexico are "Carlos, Light the Farolito" and "The Farolitos of Christmas". Both wonderful books. I have not read the first two books listed in this post- I look forward to finding them (hoping our library might have them!).

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your reading adventures.

  3. I love this Christmas around the world theme you're using this Advent. oh and I bought the Christmas mosaic and Catholic mosaic books!!


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