Our parish just put on a little Advent workshop about the history of Christmas and the Church. I had a short opportunity to share some of the things we do around here to keep the focus on the real meaning of the season. I loved some of the things other moms shared as well that we might incorporate this and in following years.
Three years ago we started looking into the Orthodox Church at about this time of year. We had been attending a really popular church that came out of the college ministry of a Calvary Chapel. We loved many things about this church, but we were wanting a connection to history and the church of the New Testament. As new parents we were also trying to figure out traditions for the holidays that we wanted to incorporate in our own family.
I discovered this blog post when my research into both the Orthodox Church and Christmas traditions collided. We have been doing this wreath the last two Christmases, however the number of Sundays doesn’t always work out quite right so we either do the first candle the first day of the Nativity Fast (Nov. 15) or the last candle on Christmas Day. I have also had a hard time finding the right colored candles that matched so this year I just did beeswax tapers instead.
I also like to have our LittlePeople Nativity scene out so the kids can feel like there is something hands on that they can interact with. We have some funny stories that have come along with this set.
I bought my wooden Advent calendar a few years ago and was doing the chocolate in each door. This year I decided to do something a little different. Since technically the Christmas season goes until the Twelve Days of Christmas which occur traditionally after Christmas Day, not before, I decided that it almost works out to fill up our Advent calendar twice during Nativity (50 days). Drawing on the idea of the Pascha Passports, I made some PDFs with mini icons of the saints of the day for each of my doors. We’ve been opening them each day, reading the life of the saints and pasting their icons on golden Nativity stars that we are hanging from the ceiling. There are also still jellybeans behind each door like we’re used to. 😉
Our Garden of the Theotokos curriculum also has some beautiful artwork planned for this season which we started on Friday.
What are some ways you make the holidays meaningful for your family and not just about the hustle, bustle and commercialism?