Photographs: North Zealand International School
Text: Shani Bishop
International schools are like the world in miniature, with many nationalities represented. Everyone brings their own traditions to the community, so no year is like any other. This cultural richness is something families enjoy and want their children to experience.
In recent years North Zealand International School (NIS) has recognised many different festivals celebrated by the international school community, including Chinese New Year and Eid. For Chinese New Year, one of the parents from China explained how the Chinese no longer use fireworks for displays, instead choosing drones that move together to form colours and patterns in the sky. After explaining the foods, songs and traditions, each child at NIS was given a red envelope with 2 chocolate coins inside.
To mark Eid, the end of Ramadan, NIS learners first learnt about the festival in class. All the learners then received a small goody bag with a QR code. Once scanned, this QR code linked to a website that explained who at school celebrates Eid, what they do to celebrate and what they love about it.
Christmas is celebrated differently in every country, and so the traditions change as families come and go. As North Zealand International School (NIS) is part of Nordsjællands Grundskole og Gymnasium (NGG), NIS learners are fortunate to learn and celebrate Danish traditions too.
Last Christmas, when we couldn't gather, each class in the school decorated their door. Every door was different. Some were traditional with Santa, snow or Christmas trees - others were funny or clever. Some stretched along the walls, and some were 3D. The designs were unique and testament to the creativity and artistic talents of our students. In both the Danish and International departments of the school, prizes were given for the best door. Some of the best doors are shown here, which one do you like best? Check out the NIS Facebook page for this year's doors!
"Christmas is celebrated differently from country to country, and so the traditions change as families come and go."
Dutch families kindly come into school to speak to the children about Sinterklass. First, the children learned about Sinterklass, his helpers, and this Dutch tradition's wonderful details. Afterwards, they made little Sinterklass helper hats. Later the children put a shoe by the classroom fireplace and left a carrot for Sinterklass's horse. On arrival at school the following day, the children found a small present or a chocolate goody.
On 13th December, learners at the school celebrate the life of Santa Lucia. Boys and girls from one year group form a procession around the entire school. Each learner in the parade wears a white outfit and carries a candle whilst singing the traditional song. With all the lights off and the candles glowing, it is very enchanting.
In normal years the support association 'Friends of NGG' organise the famous Julebasar within the school. There are decorated classrooms, fun family activities, raffles, and food to raise money for the school. Each class practises and performs a Christmas song, and each classroom is transformed. Some become winter wonderlands complete with icy, frosty landscapes and treats. Others morph into casinos or Santa's workshops.
End of another year
Before our learners and their families leave for Christmas, there is one last hurrah. On the final afternoon, the parents are offered Æbleskiver and hot chocolate to celebrate the end of term. Families gather to chat and wish each other a good Christmas before heading off.
The Three Kings
The Spanish speaking community introduced the three kings festival to NIS. On 6th January, parents explain how the three kings offered presents to baby Jesus. To celebrate this, presents are given to children - so the lucky learners at NIS often receive a little gift.