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Hickory Creek students learn about Christmas traditions from around the globe
Japan, Shuta and Natsuki Hatanaka.jpg
Shuta and Natsuki Hatanaka are pictured with a tree decorated for Japan. The siblings are visiting America with their parents. Christmas has just recently been celebrated in Japan. While it is not a religious holiday for them, they do like sending cards and giving presents.

Hickory Creek Elementary took its students on a Christmas trip around the world without leaving campus.

“Our theme this year is ‘Around the Word’ and because we couldn’t do normal things because of COVID, I thought it would be fun for us to put up trees,” said Stephanie Ward, first-grade teacher. “Each grade level or each department could decorate its tree. The front office did one. Students could construct the ornaments.”

The goal was to decorate trees from different countries and represent those traditions and cultures. 

There were 16 trees from China, Japan, India, Honduras, Guatemala, USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, England, Norway, Ukraine, Sweden, Germany, Australia and Ghana. 

“The second grade picked China because we have students here that were born in China or lived in China,” said Ward. “India was chosen because we have some students who are from India. Germany was chosen because Jackie Smith, who is our instructural coordinator, her mother came from Germany. The items on this tree are hers and came from Germany.”

Each tree includes a write-up of the country and its Christmas traditions. A PowerPoint presentation was created so teachers could use the exhibit to educate students in their classrooms and then visit the trees. 

The tree for Ukraine had an eight-legged creature.

“We wanted to do Ukraine because there’s a story of the spider,” said Ward. “In western Ukraine, spider webs decorate Christmas trees because of the Christmas Spider story.”  

Legend of the 

Christmas Spider:

A long time ago in Germany, a mother was cleaning for Christmas and spiders fled up to the attic to escape her broom. On a quiet Christmas Eve, the spiders slowly came down for a peek. ‘Oh, what a beautiful tree!’

In excitement, they scurried up and out along each branch. They were filled with happiness as they climbed among the glittering beauty. By the time they were done, the tree was shrouded in dusty webs. 

When Santa came with gifts for the children and saw the tree covered with webs, he smiled because he saw how happy the spiders were. Knowing how heartbroken the mother would be if she saw it, Santa turned the webs to strands of silver and gold, and the tree was more beautiful than before.

That’s the story of tinsel on trees, and why every tree should have a Christmas Spider in its branches.

Student participation with the trees was key. 

Morrigan Parton, who had a favorite spider on the tree, wants a toy unicorn for Christmas, while Tripper Blalock wants a Power Ranger. 

“We decorate our tree on the 13th and we also have pumpkin pie for dessert, if we can save some from Halloween,” said Tripper, when asked about family traditions. “I did get a big present from Santa. I don’t know what it is. I hope it’s a Power Ranger.”

Gabbi Molloy, who said she had fun decorating their tree, is undecided on what she wants for Christmas, “I really don’t know.” 

Tradition is big at the home of Liam Warden. Opening presents on Christmas morning is followed by a “big feast” later in the day. “I want a 4-wheeler. All my friends have one. They go through a pond. I’d like to go through a pond with them.” 

Aven King wants an iPod, “I’m really looking forward to an iPod. Sometimes, I like YouTube and I like games. I can also call my mom on it.”  

Siblings Natsuki and Shuta Hatanaka preferred not to divulge their Christmas lists.