Whether you are Roman Catholic or Protestant, both traditions celebrate Advent, a time of reflection and worship, leading up to Christmas. Western Christians observe four weeks, while in the East, Advent begins in November. No matter your familial faith, Advent ends on Christmas Eve.
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If you’ve not added this celebration to your family holiday calendar, it can be a very inexpensive, and yet meaningful, way to help your children remember the reason for the season and the importance of solemnizing our hearts and lives.
What is advent?
If you’re not familiar with Advent, let me give you the “30 second tour”. The word advent come from the Latin, “adventus”, which means an approach or an arrival. For over 1000 years, Advent has marked the start of the season, which celebrates Christ’s birth. Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and, in high church tradition, marks the end of Common Time. The colors, Scripture readings, and prayers all come together to create more joy and purpose in Christmas.
This year, Advent begins on Sunday, December 1st. If your congregation does not observe the lighting of Advent candles or have special Christmas readings (mine does not), then you can easily bring the peace and joy of Advent into your own home.
Here’s what you’ll need:
I want you to be able to embrace this tradition – even if you don’t have a penny to spend to do it!
So, before I even begin listing some items which you may want to buy, I’m going to say that we celebrated Advent last year and spent not one penny. We downloaded an Advent wreath coloring page (Try this one or this one) and had the kids color in one candle each week and then color the flame to “light the candle”. We also found a free Advent guide (I give you a link to one later in this article.)
However, if you’d like a more traditional experience, you can gather all the supplies for about $20.
An Advent Wreath
You can often find them at second hand stores, especially at this time of year. You can purchase them with or without greenery. If you find a plain ring that you like, you can either use it as is, or gather pine boughs and pine cones from your yard or neighborhood and place them around the ring or in the center.
I found this one on Amazon for less than $20. It even comes with the candles!
This Advent wreath comes with the greenery already enclosing the candle sconces.
Decorate the Advent Ring
Once you have your ring and candles, you can either gather natural materials like pine boughs and pine cones to encircle your ring or purchase artificial greenery.
If your wreath did not come with candles, you’ll want to purchase candles separately. Traditional advent wreaths have spaces for four candles: three purple and one pink. Although, in some traditions the final candle is white.
An advent guide
Although these are available for purchase, last year we found and downloaded a free Advent guide. I recently found this one FREE from Lifeway and already love it! There are scripture readings, a short story, and a simple activity for each week of Advent. You need to give them your e-mail address, but the guide really is very well done. If you’d prefer not to give out your personal information, you can Google “Advent guides” and find others for free.
Advent Books (Optional)
This is optional, but I highly recommend if you have small children, making Advent more than reading scripture and lighting candles. It can be an amazing, faith-building experience that centers on lessons that a child can understand.
Here are some suggestions for Advent Books to share with your children:
- Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide
- Bartholemew’s Passage by Arnold Ytreeide
- Look! A Child’s Guide to Advent and Christmas. I don’t own this one. But, I found it on Amazon. It looks so engaging and got great reviews from parents of young children.
Though not centered specifically around Advent, if you want to read a book that will challenge your preconceived views about Christmas and inspire you to deepen your faith, then this is the book for you. Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas: A Guide for Churches and Families, authored by Chris Marchand, is a fascinating look at the tradition of holding feast days from December 24th to January 6th (12 days). Written by a true scholar, it is well researched and extensively footnoted. Yet, the author brings the concepts down to a layman’s level and leaves you yearning to carry the Light of Love into the New Year.
(Disclosure: I know the author personally, but I purchased my book and have not been paid for my opinion.)
What are your Christmas traditions?
I’d LOVE to know how your family celebrates the holidays? What are you special traditions? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Need more help?
I cover Advent and a multitude of other ways that my family has found to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way without spending any money in, Creating Meaningful Holiday Memories on A Dime. It’s one of three FREE BONUS eBooks, you receive when you purchase The Debt-Free Christmas Binder. Click here for more information.