New Year’s Eve Around the World

Have you ever wondered how people in other countries celebrate New Year’s Eve? Kids love learning about different traditions and will enjoy hearing these interesting facts about some of the countries in Missionary Kid Stories. (The following information is not in the book.)

In Brazil, people celebrate Réveillon (New Year’s Eve) in Rio de Janeiro with huge fireworks shows, especially on Copacabana beach. Millions of people dress in white and crowd the beaches to watch the fireworks. Many people run into the ocean and jump seven waves. They also send flowers and gifts out onto the water to the goddess of water, Lemanjá. It is said that she will answer the wishes of those who send gifts to her on this night.

In the Philippines, people celebrate the Media Noche (Spanish for midnight) or Bisperas ng Bagong Taon (Tagalog) by having a midnight meal, lighting fireworks, and making a lot of noise to drive away the evil spirits. Some dress in polka-dots and eat round fruits (like purple grapes) to celebrate. They believe that this will give them prosperity in the coming year. Long noodles and eggs are eaten because these symbolize long life and new life, respectively. At the exact moment of midnight, Filipino children jump into the air because they believe that it will make them taller.

“La Saint-Sylvestre” or “Le Réveillon du Nouve An” is celebrated in France. Large cities have large fireworks displays, but some people just organize dance parties or get together with friends for an evening of food and fun. Good seafood and meats are prepared for a meal. At the stroke of midnight, people kiss under the mistletoe and throw confetti and blow whistles.

In Indonesia, large cities like Bandung have some main streets closed off with many people, food trucks, and performances. People also participate in isighosah (mass prayer) lead by religious leaders. Local people will wish you “Selamat tahun baru!”, or Happy New Year in Indonesian. For Hindu people in Indonesia, the Hindu New Year is celebrated sometime in March or April.

Mexico also has many traditions to celebrate the “Año Nuevo”. Many people thoroughly clean their house before the dinner celebration that evening. Midnight mass is attended by many. At midnight, people ring bells, eat grapes, and kiss and greet each other for good luck and prosperity in the new year. Many people wear new clothes that evening, and some even wear red or yellow underwear (for love and wealth). Candles may be lit on a plate surrounded by lentils, beans, corn, rice, and cinnamon. As the candles burn out, the contents of the plate are buried to ensure lots of food being available in the coming year.

The country of Zimbabwe in Africa is a very diverse country with many cultures, but almost everyone celebrates the New Year. Large cities like Harare have big organized celebrations. Families get together to eat a traditional meal. Tourists from all over go to Victoria Falls for the huge Vic Falls Carnival, a huge celebration with lots of entertainment.

And lest you think that these are silly traditions that only people in other countries have, don’t forget about millions of people in the southern United States that have their own tradition. On New Year’s Day, they eat a dish some call Hoppin John. This dish is made with black-eyed peas, onions, rice, bacon or hog jowl, and salt. Many also eat it with greens on the side. They believe that this will give them good luck and prosperity in the new year.

As you talk about these traditions with your kids, remind them that even though traditions are fun, we need to trust in the only source of “good luck” and prosperity – God, our heavenly Father. There is no harm in wearing white clothes or eating black-eyes peas, as long as we know that these things cannot bring us peace, wealth or good luck.

Psalm 37: 4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Family Activity – Service Project

A fun way to teach kids about missions is to do a service project. I suggest finding an organization in your area and coming up with an idea for how to serve them. You might even ask them if they have needs or ideas.

Our family lives near a shelter for homeless men that are trying to get back on their feet. They offer a warm place to stay, meals, and Bible classes for those interested. They also serve the local community by giving out food boxes and supplies.

In the past, we have donated money and supplies. Last year I tried to come up with an idea of how the kids could get involved. They are young, so finding ways to involve them is a little trickier.

I went to the local fabric store and purchased fleece. (If you watch for sales or buy remnants, you can get the fabric inexpensively.)


Then we cut it into scarves to donate. My daughter helped cut them out and loved it. My son couldn’t cut as easily with the fabric shears, but he helped stack and organize the scarves. (He had fun counting them.) 🙂 We talked about how blessed we are to live in a warm house and have warm clothes and plenty of food. We talked about the needs that people in our own community have. They both went with us when we donated the scarves.

This was something they talked about for weeks afterward, especially on very cold days. It made an impact in their little lives and they asked if we could do it again this year.

There are other ways you can help locally, even on a budget:

  • Serve food at a local homeless diner
  • Play piano or sing for a local nursing home or shelter
  • Make Christmas treats or cards to take to nursing home or shelter
  • Purchase supplies to donate (clip coupons and watch sales to make this affordable)
  • Help clean or do yard work for a local organization
  • Collect coins to donate to a local organization – Let your kids do chores to earn extra money to donate

Do you have other ideas?

How to Bless a Missionary – Take Them Shopping (Week #11)

Taking a missionary shopping may sound a little overwhelming, especially if you are an introvert or if you don’t know them well. BUT, believe me, this can be a huge blessing!

There are two ways that I have seen this happen:

  1. Organize a shopping trip as a church for multiple missionaries visiting at the same time. I know a church that does this every year during their missionary focus week/month and it works well. They assign a designated amount of money for each missionary family, and assign church volunteers to accompany them to the mall. It is an event for all the missionary families and church volunteers to participate in at the same time. They take pictures and then share them on Sunday with the congregation. Many times, the missionaries will buy things like tennis shoes, pants, and bathrobes. You’d be surprised how grateful they are to buy some of these things they have been needing, but unable to afford.
  2. Take them individually. If you are meeting them for lunch or hosting them in your home, you can figure out a time to take them shopping while you are with them or while they are in town.

Things to consider:

  • Decide ahead of time if you’d like to surprise the missionary or let them know ahead of time. It might work best to plan the time, since most missionaries have a schedule to keep when they are back in the United States.
  • You don’t have to go to a huge mall.  Pick a smaller store if time is short.
  • You also need to decide what you want to take them shopping for.
    • Are you going to let them buy whatever they want?
    • Are you going to ask them to identify something they need?
    • Or are you going to offer to spoil them by buying an expensive perfume or makeup?
    • What you are shopping for will determine what store you need to go to.
  • Do you need to set a budget?
    • If you have limited funds, you need to decide ahead of time how much you are willing to spend.   If you only have a specific amount to spend, you can let the missionary know how much or just give them the cash and let them spend it.

Have you ever taken a missionary shopping?  Consider giving it a try!


How to Bless a Missionary – Buy A Magazine Subscription for Them (Week #10)

Contact your missionary friend and find out what kinds of magazines they might enjoy reading. Learn about what interests they have. What do they like?

  • Parenting
  • Homeschooling
  • Photography
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Carpentry
  • DIY
  • Travel
  • Aviation
  • Children’s interests

You’ll also need to find out if they prefer to read it electronically or receive the paper version in the mail. You might check if they can even receive paper versions through the mail…. you’ll also have to check with the magazine to see if they ship overseas (it might cost a little more for overseas shipping). You’ll either need an email or a street/PO address. Look up a magazine that matches their interest and order it for them or their children. Missionary kids usually have less access to many English reading materials.

You can do this on any budget! Many magazines are available at steep discounts at different times through the year. If you participate in the Recyclebank recycling program, you can use reward points to order magazines for other people and it won’t cost you anything!

This is a great idea for a gift that is not a one-time thing…they will keep receiving new issues throughout the whole year.  By the way, this is a great gift for anyone!

Here are some links to a few magazines to get you started…just click on the image!

            Focus on the Family Magazine Subscription - 12 Issues Clubhouse Jr. Magazine Subscription - 12 Issues

Family Fun All Access                     

Practical Homeschooling              HGTV Magazine


(Some links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.)




Christmas Around the World

Would your family like to find out what Christmas is like in other countries?  Do you need ideas for fun recipes and crafts?  Try Kate & Mack’s 12 Days of Christmas.

Register now at and receive 12 daily emails with info about Christmas in each of 12 different countries.

Kate and Mack in a snowy landscape

You may not actually have the time or energy to do all of these activities this Christmas season (because let’s face it – we’re all pretty busy).  BUT it will be a great way for your family learn about other traditions around the world, even if you only read them or do a few!

Family Activity – Christmas Advent Calendar

Have you ever used an advent calendar?  This is a fun thing that you can incorporate into family devotions or homeschooling.  It will help your family focus more on the reason for the Christmas season.

There are tons of options out there, but here is a fun printable from  It is called “Kate & Mack’s Christmas Advent Calendar“, and it looks like a fun project for little ones!

Advent coloring page

Have fun!

Reader Tip – 10 Ideas to Teach Children to Give

Check out the Reader Tip that I wrote for


As a parent, we want our kids to be kind and generous with others, but we all know this does not come naturally to most children. So, how do we teach them to give to others when they would rather focus on their own needs and wants?

Here are a few ideas…   Go here to read the rest!

Hopefully you can get some great ideas for how to help your kids learn to be more giving.

Do you have other ideas?  Please share them!