Advent means ‘coming’. In the Church calendar this is the four week period before Christmas, the feast which marks Jesus’ coming into the world as a new born baby. Purple is the liturgical colour for this season reminding us that this period of joyful anticipation, is also a time for us to reflect on our lives and repent of any attitude, behaviour or lifestyle that might be blocking the action of God’s love in our life. There are some wonderful ways for families to celebrate this season, helping all to focus more intently on the coming birth of Jesus. The Advent wreath has a long tradition across many countries and can easily be adapted for home, church or classroom. It is very effective in assisting families to resist the commercial pressures of Christmas and keep their focus on the religious feast.
Ways to Celebrate Advent
If any season belongs to Mary, it is surely Advent. Go to prayer with Mary and ask her to give you her sense of conviction and eager anticipation of Jesus’ renewed presence in the world. December 8 marks the feast of her conception and December 12 is Our Lady of Guadalupe.
There are some beautiful religious calendars that can be purchased through Christian book shops – avoid the commercialised chocolate versions that feature toys and reindeers.
Journey to Bethlehem
Using the pieces of your family Nativity scene, set up the stable in your prayer space. Keep Jesus hidden. Place Mary, Joseph and the donkey in a remote location. Each day, the children move them closer to their final destination. Shepherds, sheep, and angels can all journey to Bethlehem, arriving at the stable on Christmas day when Jesus also appears. The Wise Men take longer, arriving on the Feast of the Epiphany.
Using a tall candle marked with 24 lines to indicate the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas, light the candle each day for your family prayers. As the candle gets shorter, children can count the number of days left to Christmas by the number of lines visible on the candle.
The Jesse Tree
Each day of Advent, place a new ornament symbolising one of the Old Testament ancestors of Jesus (eg Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah etc). Check out CathFamily’s Jesse Tree, complete with instructions, prayers and downloadable template.
The rich symbolism of an Advent Wreath connects families and churches to the sense of anticipation and joy of the season. CathFamily has some great options for your family to get involved with this ancient tradition.
- Natural Advent Wreath
- Advent Water Wreath
- Advent Wreath Banner
- Advent Prayer I & Advent Prayer II to complete your family prayer ritual.
Over to you! How does your family celebrate Advent? Do you have an advent wreath or build a Nativity creche? Tell us in the comments below!