The History of Christmas
Mince pies, Christmas trees, robins, an old man with a beard filling your stockings with gifts… What have they got to do with a baby being born in a Middle Eastern stable?
Christmas is probably the biggest and most widely celebrated of all the religious festivals, but what do you really know about it? Isn’t celebrating a birth in the desert lands of Roman-occupied Israel at odds with the wintery images of evergreen foliage, chocolate Yule logs and reindeer?
Now you can explore the origins of Christmas with this unique whole-school experience. The Holly King – the original Santa – will come to your school along with the Ice Queen, with a range of interactive fun activities to help children understand why mid-winter festivals were so important in pre-Christian society, and how they became attached to the Christian festival of Christmas. Our workshops are designed to inspire children, with practical activities and hands-on exploration.
Combine this workshop with your annual visit from Santa and have the truly traditional Holly King give out gifts instead!
For our Christmas workshop, we can take large numbers of children across the whole primary age range, making it a very cost-effective activity for schools. The topics we cover can include:
- Why do we use the 25th December, when Jesus might well have been born in spring, summer or autumn?
- Traditional dancing, singing, mummers play
- Why do we use holly, robins, reindeer, mince pies, turkey and what on earth is wassailing?
- How Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Tudors and Victorians celebrated Christmas
- Who is the Lord of Misrule and what does that means in your classroom?
- The influence of Charles Dickens and Washington Irving
- Making gifts, pomanders, cards, Christmas decorations
- The stories behind Christmas carols, the Nativity play, and angels and shepherds
- Why Father Christmas is really green!
Black Knight Historical are delighted to offer a great workshop exploring children’s toys and games from the past. Inside our box of delights, your pupils will find:
- the game of Ur – the oldest know board game, dating back five thousand years
- Hnafetafl, the Viking Board Game
- ludo, drafts, backgammon and chess
- From the 1970s, a spacehopper and pogo stick
- a wooden fort with toy soldiers
- hopscotch and a skipping rope
- a genuine WW2 wooden tank toy
- dolls and a teddy bear
- a dressing-up sword, shield and helmet
- a hand puppet and marionette
- a wooden car
- a knight on horseback.
Pirates in the classroom! Our favourite school workshop.
Our fascinating session on pirates explores their factual history, and how we’ve grown to love these criminals through those ‘heroes’ Captain Hook and Jack Sparrow.
We encourage the children to dress up for the day, and we start with a surprise in assembly, where the meet Cap’n ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham and Anne Bonney.
Then all children pick a pirate name for the day, join the crew and receive the ‘black spot’ on their hand or forehead to signify their new-found allegiance to their pirate cause… A treasure map is produced and we all follow the clues, whilst trying to stay one step ahead of the Royal Navy!
We’ll introduce a range of ideas and explore them:
- swabbing the decks, and barrels o’ grog!
- landlubbers and salty old sea dogs
- “Avast, me hearties!” – how to talk like a pirate
- cannons, blunderbuss and cutlass training
- singing sea shanties together as we row a boat or do hard work together
- hauling on ropes to raise the sails
- punishments on board, walking the plank, keelhauling, and floggings with the cat o’ nine tails
- treasure chests with pieces of eight and Spanish doubloons.
A Black Knight Historical educational day on wizardry and witchcraft – the truth and the fiction. Perfect for those Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings literacy days, and inspiring young minds.
We have two baby dragons plus lots of wizard artefacts –real spell-books, wands, a staff, a crystal ball, and as a grand finale, a dragon-summoning spell !
Your students can join in with interactive wizards’ experiments too.
Being both respectful and truthful, this day is perfectly adapted to faith schools as a topic of interest.