It’s been so exciting seeing all the wonderful things practitioners and children have been making at Forest School in preparation for Christmas. Making the video advent has certainly been a lot of fun, chickens and all.

For me, the Christmas advent had to include particular items and I realised that some of  my family Christmas traditions are quite fixed. This is the case for a lot of people worldwide. Chatting to a friend last night I found I was empathetic to the fact that, having got herself a Portuguese husband, she now celebrates Christmas on what is our Christmas Eve. She was a little nostalgic for the Christmas she’d had when she was a child with the 25th being the main event but also enjoys her ‘new’ Christmas. My suggestion of celebrating festivities over both days wasn’t feasible as the ‘all nighter’ nature of Portuguese celebrations makes Christmas day a day of recovery and eating. Doesn’t sound that bad, I can see why she’s embraced it.

It got me reading about how Christmas is celebrated by different cultures (thankyou internet) and I am considering introducing some of these traditions into my own family Christmas. With my husband’s Swedish roots we already have the toompta as featured in the Forest School video advent (done) but maybe it’s time for a few others. For example, carving a nativity out of radishes as in Oaxaca, Mexico (possible), or the ‘first footer’ in Estonia, where the first person to visit the house on Christmas day determines the luck for the coming year (possible), eating the seasonal treat of deep fried caterpillars as in South Africa (not brave enough), adopting KFC as a Christmas dinner like in Japan (still not brave enough) or by taking a rooster to the church on Christmas Eve as practised by the Bolivians (Maybe. Could be funny).

Essentially though most celebratory festivals, whatever your background and traditions, have roots based around community, generosity and being mindful of what is happening around us. For me, these values should be prevalent in every Forest School setting in an honest and meaningful way.

By taking the time to be mindful of the world around us, we can improve ourselves and our teaching practise. More importantly, in a climate of rushed, criteria driven education, the slower pace of Forest School gives us time to focus on teaching mindfulness as a coping strategy against the pressures of our crazy education system and gives us time to use laughter as a medicine.

On that note, I’m going to switch off my screen. I am not going to seek out a rooster to take to church or order a KFC but instead be mindful with a cup of tea and offer my children some deep fried caterpillars.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, enjoy your traditions and I hope you are looking forward to a mindful and laughter filled Forest School in 2019.