Orthodox Christian Holidays -- a Multicultural Children's Book Day Review

Disclosure: Charlotte Riggle sent me these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Do you know anyone who is Orthodox Christian? I have good friends who are Greek Orthodox so I have some idea of the Orthodox traditions, but of course they are also different for different cultures and areas. However today I am sharing some amazing books to share some Orthodox traditions around two holidays--St. Nicholas Day and Easter. These books are by Charlotte Riggle and illustrated by R.J. Hughes. Both books have the same characters in it: Catherine and her best friend Elizabeth and Catherine's family. Since St. Nicholas Day was last week (Wednesday), I will start with Saint Nicholas Day Snow. (By the way today is St. Lucia Day, but as I am running late on my December holiday posts that one will be late as well.)

In this beautiful book, Elizabeth comes to spend the night at Catherine's house while her parents go to be with her grandmother while she is having surgery. It happens to be December 5th and Elizabeth is very concerned that St. Nicholas will not know where to find her. Even though the two families celebrate St. Nicholas Day differently, they try to understand each other's celebrations and why there are different ways to celebrate. The book answers things like December 5 versus 24 and shoes versus stockings. It is a wonderful tale and introduction to St. Nicholas as well as the celebration of his day. The characters are multicultural. Elizabeth is in a wheel chair although there is no mention of it. She is pictured in one. Plus one learns a bit about the Orthodox Christians. 

At the back of the book there is information about St. Nicholas as well as his feast day. There is also a recipe to make the snowball cookies the girls made to leave out for St. Nicholas in the story. I made them. We found them delicious but a bit dry and I more than doubled the milk in the recipe. 

Throughout the book there are pictures of beautiful churches from around the world named for St. Nicholas. We have one more to add, but I cannot find a picture of its outside. This is the St. Nicholas Chapel at Santa's Village in New Hampshire. 

We have visited the past two summers.Right next to it is a life size nativity. We have used pictures from it the past two years. There is history in the small chapel saying it was the first building built for Santa's Village. We love it!!

Charlotte's first book takes us to another big Christian holiday--Easter!! This was written before St. Nicholas Day Snow, and it has the same characters in it. The book is Catherine's Pascha

This beautiful book tells the tale of Catherine and her family going to church for the long service that ends on Easter morning (midnight). Her mother has the baskets of food ready to bring up to be blessed. Catherine sees her friend Elizabeth there and Catherine's little brother falls asleep. Catherine is old enough to stay awake through the mass and celebrations but falls asleep in the car on the way home. In a similar fashion there are pictures of beautiful churches from all over the world. I love how the story shares the special things at the Orthodox service and how each church celebration can still be different. 

I am always fascinated by the differences in how Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter (and Lent) compared to the churches I been. The fact that Easter is often a different day than ours to begin. It is often a week later, but sometimes it is not. Then for Lent they give up many things and during Holy Week it is even more extreme. I remember my Greek friends mentioning not wearing leather during Holy Week, because it comes from an animal. This book gives so much information in such a fun way and helps to see how others celebrate holidays differently. 

Activities to go with this book would be making the red Easter eggs and/or the sticky buns shaped like bunnies. I did not do either of these though. Sorry!! However both of these books share a new culture with different takes and a disabled girl in it as well. I love the diversity!! The stories are wonderful too. 

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

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