It’s officially Advent season and I’m sharing how we celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in our family!
Advent means the coming or arrival of something and we celebrate Advent as we anticipate the arrival of Christmas–the celebration of Christ’s birth. We celebrate Advent in our family as a reminder of the reason for this holiday season. Advent brings the focus of Christmas back to Jesus and allows us to do that together as a family.
The Advent Wreath
Advent is represented in our home by the Advent candles and wreath that we display on the dining table or kitchen island. Traditionally, the Advent wreath consists of greenery gathered around four tall candles–three purple and one pink, with a large white candle in the center. Each candle signifies a part of the Christmas story, and the white center candle is called the Christ candle. The greenery around the candle setting represents eternal life.
To make our Advent wreath I typically save a few of the branches that are cut off of the bottom of our Christmas tree when we purchase it each year (we buy a real tree). Then, I arrange the branches in a circle around my Advent candle holder and hot glue them together. Some years I make a large wreath and other years I opt for a smaller version. You can use real or artificial greenery or none at all if you prefer. This year we gathered some pinecones during the Thanksgiving weekend so I added glitter to them for some sparkle and put them on my wreath! I use a simple candle holder that I bought years ago, but you can find many different styles and even some that already have a wreath attached.
Your Advent wreath can be as simple or as fancy as you would like it to be. You can personalize it to fit your family’s style!
We begin lighting the Advent candles on the first Sunday of Advent. This year the first day of Advent began on November 27th. We follow the traditional pattern of lighting one of the purple candles every night for dinner during the first week of Advent. On the second Sunday of Advent we light the first purple candle and another purple candle. Both of these purple candles are lit for dinner every night during the second week. On the third Sunday we continue the routine by lighting both purple candles and the pink candle. On the fourth Sunday we light all three purple candles and the pink one. When Christmas Eve arrives we light all of the candles in addition to the large white Christ candle in the center. We also light all of the candles on Christmas day.
If dinner is not a meal that your family typically shares, you can light your candles during breakfast, lunch, or anytime that you are all together. The idea is to find a few minutes each day of Advent to spend together with your whole family present.
Celebrating Advent doesn’t end with lighting candles. Actually, we use the candles as a visual reminder to do the next part of our Advent celebration. The most important part of Advent for our family is engaging our children in some type of Advent devotional time each evening. Over the years I have found that Focus on the Family * provides some really great Advent devotionals for children and many of them are free! This year we are using their All the Colors of Christmas devotional (the free version)* each evening to guide our family Bible reading and discussion. What I really love about their Advent devotionals that we have tried are the way they connect the Bible from the very beginning with the birth of Christ. Putting those pieces together is such a great way to help children understand why Jesus entered our world as a baby. Reading through the Christmas story in the book of Luke is also a great way to teach children about why we celebrate this special holiday. There are also many other Advent devotionals and resources out there.
*Note: I am not affiliated with Focus on the Family.
Celebrating Advent has been something that I look forward to each year because it helps our family remember why we are celebrating Christmas in the first place.
Advent also provides a great way to reconnect as a family and to get back into evening family devotion time when we waver from that routine. I like to use this season as a prompt for myself to reengage with studying my Bible as well. I typically choose an in-depth Bible study to work on for my own spiritual growth. This year I am doing a topical study on the Fruit of the Spirit.
Advent can be celebrated in many different ways with many different traditions. Advent doesn’t have to include the traditional candles or books devoted to the season. No matter how you spend this time of the year, I encourage you to use this time to focus your attention on the reason for the season as you anticipate the coming holiday with quality time with your family.
Happy Advent Season!