Saturday, December 1, 2007

Make Advent Real! Here's How

Tomorrow, Dec. 2 is the first Sunday of Advent. Raising your family's consciousness regarding Advent is a good way to remind them of the spirituality of this very commercial holiday season.

The simplest way to do this is to use a pre-made Advent calendar. These range from the inexpensive card-stock "open the windows" type to beautiful cloth calendars with pockets. One year, I baked up little cut-out cookies and constructed my own calendar using simple plastic snack bags (like sandwich bags, only smaller) and pinned them (use safety pins) in calendar fashion, to a felt background. I hung the finished "calendar" from a wooden dowel.(Pin the felt around the dowel--very simple.) Each day's bag held four cookies--one for each child, as I only had four, then--and was numbered on the outside with a permanent marker. (You could also use festive stickers to make it prettier. Or, use icing to write the number onto the cookies before assembling your calendar.)

Our calendar wouldn't have won any "Good Housekeeping" awards for beauty, but oh, the children loved it! Since it was a visual reminder as well as a gustatory delight, it had a double impact. Add to that a simple daily reading from scripture or an appropriate book of your choice, and you have a wonderful family tradition that brings meaning to all the bustle and busyness of the season.

Ultimately, it isn't the gifts on Christmas Day or the pretty tree in your livingroom that is soul-satisfying for either you or your family. Oh, they play an important part in our hearts and should be continued. But it is the birth of Christ and what that meant for the world that brings lasting contentment, long after the tree is taken down and the gifts have been used or outgrown.

For more ideas on keeping Advent, check out this link .

A Regency Advent

During the Regency, church-going families would have been well aware of Advent. In fact, for most average people (not upper-class) the season began the week before Advent with Stir-Up Sunday.

"Housekeepers or cooks, mindful of Christmas approaching, would start their Christmas pudding now. Poorer families had often been contributing to a "pudding club" for months in anticipation of being ready to afford the important dinner course."
"Stir-Up Sunday" became the unofficial start to the Christmas season. How the day got its name will surprise you: more on that in my next post!

[quote taken from Regency House Christmas: The Definitive Guide to A Remarkably Regency Yuletide!"