Sunday, November 20, 2011

Preparing for Advent

We have a strict "No Christmas Before Thanksgiving" rule in our house, but I have to sneak a little thought and planning in beforehand. The first day of Advent in 2011 begins SundayNovember 27, 2011.  In case you're looking to prepare meaningful crafts, traditions, and activities for your family, I thought I'd break our pre-Thanksgiving rule to share our family favorites with you.

You might be asking "What is advent?" Well, the word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means "coming".  During the Christmas season, we celebrate that Christ came to earth as our Saviour and we celebrate that He is coming again.

There are no rules written in stone for how you must celebrate Advent.  It is a precious time that will be made unique by your own family.  My family began celebrating Advent years ago, before our first child was a year old.  We were young parents exploring how we wanted to establish our own traditions.  We knew that we didn't want to raise our children with a typical Santa Claus Consumerism holiday.  We wanted to pause and savor the true meaning of Christmas.  We ran across an article by Focus on the Family that introduced us to the idea of Advent, and we quickly adopted the tradition.

As time went on and our children grew, we realized the season was still rushing by us too quickly.  I discovered The Teaching Mom's Advent Calendar and we began a new tradition that we call Christmas School.  Our regular homeschool studies stop for Advent and we fill our days with a new style of learning.  We've incorporated many different traditions through the years and I'll happily share them with you here in the upcoming weeks. 

These ideas are meant to help savor the season, not to add to the rush.  I'll share more ideas than any one family could do in one season, so feel free to pick and choose your favorites.  Because my family does most of our activities during weekdays, the weekends won't share as many activities as weekdays.  If you are doing activities primarily on weekends, you'll want to borrow from other days.  

As much as we love the activities that we've chosen, I would still love to hear about your holiday celebrations! Please share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions!

Now, let's get started!

Some excellent books you might enjoy while preparing for Advent include:

Great websites include:
Though it isn't necessary, an Advent wreath is a beautiful addition to your advent celebration.  My family uses a cheap, simple wreath with short candle holders inserted from the bottom.  We place taper candles into the holders through the top and then place a white pillar candle in the middle.

The Basics

The Wreath:

Here are some websites for wreath ideas:

Traditionally the candles include 3 purple, 1 pink, and a white center candle, but these aren't always easy to find and variations are perfectly acceptable.  Blue is a nice replacement for purple.  My family often uses burgundy candles. We prefer to save the candle lighting until just before bed so that we can enjoy their beautiful glow in the dark evening.  We have found that it works best to not keep them lit more than 5 minutes per night to avoid them burning down before Christmas gets here. We gather together in the family room for our Advent reading and then light the candles as we read the verse and/or pray.  Some families prefer to only light the candles on Sundays for Advent Readings.


Descriptions of each candle's name and meaning can be found here: