Primary school pupils in County Durham have been spreading Christmas cheer with their international peers as part of an annual festive project.
Durham County Council’s international relations team is managing a unique cultural exchange scheme between schools in the UK and the rest of Europe for children to share and learn about Christmas traditions in different countries.
For the project, pupils in primary schools across the county have been creating Christmas decorations to send to other schools across Europe together with an information pack about how the festive season is celebrated in the UK.
In return, the UK schools will receive their own information pack and decorations created by pupils in other European countries which will be used to decorate a Christmas tree in a prominent area in their school or local community.
The information packs teach pupils how Christmas is celebrated in other countries and can be used to make a special Christmas display at school or even to host a ‘European Christmas’ event at the school for parents and carers.
In total there are 291 schools involved in the project with 13 from the UK; all of which are from County Durham.
In previous years, the project was managed by a network of European Information Centres. However, this year, it will be managed by Durham County Council and partners in local authorities, Europe Direct Centres and families of schools across Europe.
Schools will receive their decorations and information packs by today, Monday, 7 December, when they can begin their international festive celebrations.
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This project combines creativity, fun and festivity to help children learn about the cultural traditions followed by people in other countries.
“By making tree decorations and putting together information about how we celebrate Christmas in our own region, pupils will discover more about their own culture and traditions as well as those of others.
“Our pupils will receive decorations and materials from all across Europe, giving them the opportunity to not just learn about what Christmas means to other countries but also a chance to discover that country’s language, geography, history and culture.
“Pupils will also learn about how the pandemic is affecting schools across the continent helping them understand that children across the world are going through the very same issues.
“We hope this project will bring pupils together in an exciting way and that schools will maintain contact with each other to work on a wide variety of international relations projects in the future.”