It’s been a while since we did any geography lesson with Christmas around the World, and then we started studying Italy and our library had four books about Christmas in Italy, and suddenly I had a great Christmas in Italy lesson. Enjoy some yummy cookies, and a quick silly craft.
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Our Christmas in Italy lesson books
- The Legend of Old Befana– This is a traditional legend in Italy, and I super loved reading this as a fun addition to the Three Wise Men tale
- Jingle the Christmas Clown– It looks like this is out of print, if you have this at your library or happen to see this, it’s a cute story, but I don’t think it’s a “don’t miss,” so don’t go out of your way to hunt this down. Jingle is part of a traveling circus, and is left with the younger animals at a small village and helps put on a Christmas show for them
- Nonna Tell Me a Story– By contrast, I loved this story so much more. It’s a fun story of a grandma with all of her grandkids telling what Christmas was like in the “Old Country” and their homemade Christmas. This actually inspired the Christmas tree we had this year while Tara was here and we celebrated Christmas in October. There is also a large collection of recipes in the back of the book that was fun to look at
Italian Christmas Cookies
I originally was going to make several of the different types of Christmas cookies for our Christmas in Italy lesson, but life got crazy and the library really wanted their books back, so we only made a super fun orange sugar cookie variation. We decided to make them in the shape of stars to go with the Legend of Old Befana and Jingle the Christmas Clown (though I didn’t see the correlation with the story as the recipe in the back of that book played it up).
Sigh, I didn’t record the recipe when we originally did this, and now the book I found the recipe in is no longer in the library, so I have finally found a new recipe online.
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
- 3/4 cup butter softened
- 3 ounces of cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 cups flour
- crush the saffron threads into the milk, and set aside for it to warm up (if short on time heat briefly in the microwave, BUT the flavors come out better if you have the time to let it warm up gradually)
- Mix together the butter and cream cheese, then add brown sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and the saffron mixture. Slowly mix it all together.
- Gradually add the flour into the mixture a little bit at a time, cover and chill for 1 hour.
- Option 1: make 1 inch balls and flatten the dough with the tines of a fork, OR with a decorative jar bottom.
- Option 2: roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter.
- Bake in 350 oven for 10-12 minutes.
Italian Christmas Craft
Total confession here, I pretty much made this to look cool, but the kids originally didn’t make it. The last few months got a bit crazier, and that’s why there aren’t any in-process pictures.
But…. La Befana is an old woman quite obsessed with sweeping her home and keeping it clean. She misses going to see the Christ Child because she doesn’t want to mess up her cleaning schedule. She realizes just how ridiculous that is and sets off running with her broom in hand and a collection of toys and cookies for the new baby.
Because, you know we feed babies cookies, the kids have just spent time with their baby cousin pointed this out quite loudly.
She runs and runs and at some point starts flying in her broom, and she never finds the Christ Child, but she leaves small presents and treats for every child she meets and cleans their house.
To be honest, I’m rather excited by someone who comes in and magically cleans my house.
Please come by my house La Befana.
With that, we made a La Befana broom out of a cinnamon stick and yarn. Unfortunately, the only yarn I had was black, so in the picture I took, it blends into my counter, so you can’t see the super cute broomstick ornament hanging off of the books.
It’s a super quick Christmas in Italy craft. You ready:
- Cut a piece of yarn about 6 inches long. Tie one piece around the end of the cinnamon stick. Tie a loop with the other piece, now you’ve got the loop to hang your soon to be La Befana broomstick.
- Cut off about 2 feet of yarn. Scrunch this yarn up and put it around the other end of the cinnamon stick. Tie it around, and voila, a super quick and easy La Befana Christmas ornament, a great Christmas in Italy craft to do.