Sunday, November 23

Our Favorite Advent Traditions

Looking for a new advent tradition?  Here are some of our favorites.

I am so excited to be living in the same home as we were last Advent.  Everything is so much more organized than in years past.  I've been thinking about advent the past couple weeks and am getting a few things ready for our preparation.  We are trying to simplify and do without all the sweets and extras before Christmas so that the twelve days are really special.  This is always a challenge and we certainly make exceptions for parties with friends and a few cultural events in the city, but our longing is for advent to be a time of preparation, fasting and waiting.  We are planning on just having lights on our tree when we put it up in a week or two and then slowly decorate it through the season.

Light in a Lantern  - This is my favorite advent tradition.  I love that This book engages our imaginations and sends us into nature to forge for items to make Mary and Joseph's journey as we travel through advent.  The stories are so whimsical and engaging I love them more each year we read them.

Jesse Tree - While Light in the Lantern is my favorite tradition I think the Jesse tree may be the most important.  I love that the Jesse tree reminds us that the birth of Christ was part of God's great story.  Having this as the central focus in our time of Advent is so very important.  I would love to add leaves with each of our boys symbols to represent their small part in this great story and something representing the forever kingdom to remind us that this story isn't over yet.  I've been reading about the history of Advent recently (primarily in this book) and am really wanting add more eschatological emphasis to our advent celebrations.

I was just given Ann Vorskamp's book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas and have really enjoyed the bits I've read so far.  It has a reading for each day of the Jesse tree.  I think with the littles it will be wonderful to have an illustrated book to go along with the biblical readings and it will simplify things for me.  In the past we've used this website to guide us (though we mostly read the scripture from the bible or children's bibles and didn't use the devotional part much).

You can see all of the felt leaves we use in these posts, but there are printables at this website if you want to get started without all the stitching.

Advent Chain:  I don't know if we'll make one of these this year, but Jonah really enjoyed this study of Jesus' names when his class made it last year at their Christmas party.  We may do something with it on the Feast of the Name during the twelve days of Christmas.  Because it is a free printable it is an easy advent tradition to add.  It pairs very well with Sally Lloyd Jones' book Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story because she weaves the names of Christ through the book.

It is designed to hang and have one loop removed each day till Christmas.  You can then talk about that name of Christ and read the scripture listed on the loop.

I would do this in purple if making for an advent chain.  They made it for a Christmas decoration so it was gold and silver.
Christmas Books: Getting out our collection of Christmas books has always been a big part of our Advent celebration.  We've collected lots of books, some have been gifts and many have been finds at thrift stores.  There are so many wonderful stories that I wan to share, that last year I realized at the end of the season we hadn't read a few of them (though we had read others over and over and over).  So this year I wrapped up a package of books for each day of advent.  Every day has at least one book about the nativity story and then a couple books that range from traditional Christmas stories (The Gift of the Magi, The Nutcracker, The Night before Christmas...) to more modern children's literature (Olivia Helps with Christmas, Olive, the Other Reindeer, Madeline's Christmas...)  I'm excited about this and the boys are already eagerly eyeing the two baskets of books wrapped in brown paper bags.  I also sorted our Christmas tree ornaments last year, so when we read stories about birds we can add a birds to the tree, etc.

On the Godly Play Shelves: Our banner will turn from the green of ordinary time to the purple of advent.  Our nativity and risen Christ are out all year, but I do find that they are played with more through advent and Christmas.

Playing with the Annunciation and going to Bethlehem Story:

Memory Work:  Our Sunday School finished with Psalm 23 and began memorizing Luke 2: 8-14.  I will try to post on this soon and have a copy of the memory card to share.

Traditional Wreath and Godly Play Advent:  We'll probably light our advent wreath and use our felt Godly play cards and scripts (from this book) each Sunday.
Family Candle: I think we'll simply use a purple candle on our dinner table this year.  We light a candle most nights through the year at dinner to remind us that God is with us in this place and at this time.  This is such a simple way of marking the church season.

Feast Days in the Fast of Advent: I'm also looking forward to St. Nick Night and St. Lucia Breakfast.

More Ideas:
My favorite books to use in planning advent are Festivals Family and FoodAll Year Round: Christian Calendar of  CelebrationsCelebrating the Christian Year: Building Family Traditions Around All the Major Christian HolidayLet Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home; and Celebrating the Church Year with Young Children


Lexy said...

Emily, where did you get your wooden figurines (St. Nicholas, etc)?

Watkins said...

St. Nick is from an Etsy shop ArmadilloDreams (they do custom orders if you ask). The nativity is handmade by Godly Play Finland. The peg people can be found at craft stores and hand painted. The animals are from toysforchildren in the UK (just a guy who makes them) and a few we picked up in Switzerland.

Holtztiger and Ostheimer also have beautiful wooden figures if you are in the market.