I will just be honest. I am not a fan of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas carols and decorating the house with my family, but there is something about Christmas time that makes me irritable…the “I want! I want! I want!” consumerism. It bothered me as a little kid (just ask my parents) and bugs me even more now that I am grown up with kids of my own. I know I want Christmas to be different than the typical getting and giving gifts and Santa and all of that (We will save Santa for another post). So my husband and I decided to emphasize the season of Advent rather than the Christmas season. No, Advent is not about opening a box/stocking/pocket from an advent calendar and getting a gift EVERY DAY until Christmas. That is NOT what Advent is!
I am United Methodist, but many denominations have similar traditions. Even if your denomination doesn’t have Advent traditions, it is never too late to start them as a family.
What is Advent?
Advent is the four weeks prior to Christmas starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Advent is time of preparation of the coming of Jesus, thus Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming”. Advent was started in fourth century France and the number of weeks of preparation varied from 3 to 4 to 6 weeks before Christmas, but the tradition now stands at four weeks. Advent is also the start of the liturgical (church) calendar. Other seasons include Christmas (yes, this is a separate season), Epiphany, and later Lent and Easter. As a church and as individual Christians we prepare ourselves by reading the Scriptures that foretell Jesus’ coming, prepare the for Jesus to be born, and Jesus’ birth story. We also prepare by centering ourselves around Jesus and not around ourselves.
Our Family Advent Traditions:
Advent Calendar & Jesus Tree
This is a new tradition that we started this year. I made this Advent calendar with mini stockings and small clear ornaments. Each stocking has a scripture and an ornament. 24 Scriptures and 24 names for Jesus written on an ornament. One for each day in December leading up to Christmas.
Each day we will read a part of Jesus’ story from the bible and put an ornament on our “Advent Tree” that has a name for Jesus. The scriptures range from prophecies about the coming of Jesus, to the preparing a way for Jesus and Jesus’ birth.
If you want the scriptures and names of Jesus I used, check out: Celebrating Advent at Home: Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree.
The wreath has three purple candles and a pink candle around the outside and a white candle in the middle. Each Sunday night we light the candle for that week, read a scripture, sing a song or two and then have a small discussion. On Christmas Eve, we light all the candles and the white Christ candle in the middle. This is done at the Christmas Eve service at church and then at home right before we went to bed.
Some people go crazy about Christmas covering their house with decorations (don’t get me wrong I do LOVE Christmas decorations), doing the elf on the shelf and all of that (and I totally have no problems with that at all), but I consider myself an Advent addict! (I am considering starting a new hashtag trend with #adventaddict) love the preparation of the coming of Jesus, all the symbolism in the candles, colors and what-not, and the faith-building and togetherness it creates with my family!
God Bless you and your family this time of year and always!Find out about our Advent and Christmas family traditions in my Celebrating Advent at Home series:
Advent Calendar and Jesus Tree