Advent... What do you do?

Hi There,

One of my fondest memories has to do with advent, and the advent wreath. Does anyone have a book to recommend that you use with your children? Mine are 5.

And any other traditions that you have during the holidays. We’ve never put a Jesse tree together. Sounds fun.


I love this book. It’s not just for Advent, but has an Advent section.

Check out Their Advent Adventure is packed with ideas, activities, prayers, videos, etc. You’ll learn a lot, too. There’s no cost for the program. They raise funds through optional purchases their on-line store.

I remember celebrating the feast of saint nicholas - early December.

Stockings would be hung on a fireplace mantle, or in a prominent location in the family/living room. They would be filled with simple gifts the night before the feast of saint nicholas.

You can teach the family more about saint nicholas. There are great stories about leaving a bag of gold coins with a family for a bride’s dowry. Saint Nicholas also had a confrontation with Bishop Arius where he punched the bishop for defending the arian heresy. Great stories, and true. At least this second one is true.

Overall, I recommend protecting the season of Advent. Listen to advent music at least for a couple of weeks. Watch movies and educational media that are wholly catholic.

There is a protestant video on the navitivy put out just a few years ago that has some serious problems. It is best to stay away from this and other material that is not 100% catholic.

First, I fall into a deep depression watching the malls secularize Christmas until its spiritual significance is unrecognizable.

Then, I light my Advent wreath on the first Sunday of Advent and start praying for Baby Jesus to come in spite of all the nonsense at the mall.

Next, I set out a manger scene prominently in the living room, decorate a tree with exclusively Christian ornaments and place a big spot-lighted statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the front yard to remind everyone in the neighborhood Who is coming. (The other front yards seem to think only Santa is coming.)

I go to Confession at the beginning of Advent to “prepare the way of the Lord” and then again just before Christmas to make sure that there’s “room in the inn”.

I read the Office of Readings in the Divine Office every day to help me focus on the long awaited Messiah heralded by prophets and saints. I like to meditate on the big-picture plan of salvation from the Old Testament prophets until the birth of Christ. It seems to refresh my spiritual perspective and keeps me from getting bogged down with the mindless details of holiday preparations.

I try to go to Mass every day, even in bad weather. (If Mary can travel 100 miles on a donkey when she’s nine months pregnant, I can drive 5 miles in the snow.)

Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany in the Domestic Church by the Fourniers is good. As is their website:
I have not found a great book for the advent wreath. I came up with some prayers of my own and some readings to do with the help of Google. It’s still a work in progress.

I used their book to help me come up with my Jesse tree plan. IIRC, the readings they provide are directly from the Bible, and over the heads of 5yos. But you can paraphrase or use your own ideas. I made ornaments out of shrinky dinks. I took blank shrinky dink paper, colored it purple, cut it in quarters, and drew the designs from the book on them. They shrunk up to be really cute, and we put them on our Christmas tree each day (the tree gets put up at the beginning of advent, but it stands as a Jesse tree until Christmas Eve).

The Christmas Crib is a nice tradition for kids. Set up an empty manger in your house - if your tree is up, underneath is perfect. Keep a basket of straw/hay nearby. Throughout advent, whenever your child makes a sacrifice, does a good deed, or exhibits some virtue (whatever it is you want them to be aware of and working on at that age), they can put a straw in the manger (might need to put a handful of straw depending on the size of the manger). By the end of advent, their sacrifices and goodness will have filled the manger and created a soft place for the baby Jesus to lay. We have one of the kids place the baby in the full manger on Christmas morning. Sometimes, the manger wasn’t completely filled, so on Christmas Eve after the kids have gone to bed, we fill it the rest of the way with straw. Kind of the way our feeble efforts are never enough, but God takes our offerings and makes them worthy.

We celebrate St. Nicholas’ Feast Day on Dec. 6. We honor the saint by surprising the kids in the morning with chocolate coins in their shoes.

On the feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe, we have roses in the house. You could also give out roses to people. Tomie de Paola has a great book about her.

On Gaudete Sunday, we turn the lights on our tree on for the first time. We continue to light them from that point on. They make the purple Jesse Tree ornaments sparkle nicely.

I’ve meant to, but never actually succeeded at this one: putting Candles in the windows and lighting them on the feast of St. Lucy, Dec. 13 (

We also wait to decorate the house a la Christmas until the 4th Sunday of Advent. We have a wreath on the door, but it has a purple ribbon until Christmas Eve (when the red ribbon goes on). Some people have a tradition of putting 4 ribbons on the door wreath to correspond with the lighting of the candles of the advent wreath on their table. The nativity scenes go up, but the babies don’t go in the mangers until Christmas morning (placed ceremoniously by the children) before we open presents.

We love to sing advent songs during advent, in particular as we light the advent wreath. The two favorites are O Come O Come Emmanuel, and Rise Up Jerusalem.

For Christmas Itself, we try to keep the Christmas spirit going by playing Carols throughout the season. I try to make note of all of the feast days (there are a lot), especially the Feast of the Holy Family. We have a Christmas Candle that replaces our dinner-table advent wreath which we light throughout Christmas. I attempt a ritual similar to the advent wreath, with a short prayer and sometimes a short relevant Bible verse. Sometimes enough is enough and we just say as we light it: “Jesus Christ is the Light of the world!..Glory to God in the Highest!” My kids enjoy singing the refrain to Angels we have heard on High at the table too, all part of grace. If you start young, it won’t embarrass them to do it.

Then there is Epiphany, which we celebrate on Jan 6 at home, rather than the Sunday that the Church celebrates. Our kids get 3 small family gifts that night, and we do a house blessing, marking the doors, and singing We Three Kings.

The tree comes down after that.

THANK YOU ALL! :smiley:

What a great list!!! I’m going to have so much fun stretching this holiday season.

We set out the manger scene in a prominent place in the living room, except we dont place the baby Jesus in it just yet. All December long, whenever dd does something kind and unselfish, I have her place a piece of “hay” (beige felt cut up in strips) into the manger scene. The idea is that her good deeds are like making a warm, soft place for baby Jesus to lay! On Christmas morning before anything else is done, she looks under the tree for baby Jesus (who has been gift wrapped~since He is our “gift”) unwraps and places Him in the manger. I have found this really keeps all of our focus on the real reason for the season! :p…Actually, any kiddo that is here and is “caught” doing something kind gets to add some “hay”…Dd friends just love it as much as we do!:smiley:

One of our favorite Advent traditions started by accident during the early years of our marriage.

We were living in an apartment complex, and the word was sent to all residents that thieves were in the area and that we shouldn’t put our gifts under the tree, especially if we lived on the ground floor (which we did).

So we didn’t put out gifts under the tree. Only the manger scene was under the tree.

This was so different than how we were both raised, where each day, the pile of packages under the Christmas tree grew larger and taller and wider until it threatened to impede traffic flow through the house!

As the days went by, we realized that this made a real difference in our focus. Before it was all about gifts–every day we would see the pile and speculate about our presents!

But now we had nothing to look at but the manger scene (we never put Baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas morning). So we found ourselves thinking more about the coming of the Baby Jesus.

On Christmas morning, very early, we put the Baby Jesus in our manger under the tree, along with all the presents. The symbolism was beautiful–the best Gift of all was Jesus, of course, and our presents emphasized that Truth.

So ever since, we have kept our tree bare underneath except for the manger scene. People who come over ask about it–“Where’s all your presents?!” Some people even ask, “Are you doing OK? Do you need a loan?”

When we had children, it became a very practical thing, as the girls were not tempted daily by shiny packages. Instead, they looked at Jesus (and played with the mangerr scene).

We’ve had as many as five cats in the house (now we only have two), and it’s definitely a good idea to keep gifts away from the tree until the last possible minute! Our cats love sitting under the tree next to the manger scene.

Anyway, give it a try. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can re-focus you on Jesus at Christmastime.

Cat… Thanks for the idea.

Already we don’t put our gifts out… similiar by accident. The boys can not be trusted to not tear things apart in the past.

Also, I haven’t put out my nativity scene since before they were born, as it’s a ceramic set, and I didn’t want it broken (due to little hands that I can’t catch fast enough).

So Now I can combine ideas… Yeah!

We have several nativity sets. The Fontanini which goes on the dinner table (non-breakable), a breakable one that goes elsewhere in the dining room, a little wooden set made from blocks that is for the kids to play with, a plastic veggie tales set that someone gave one of the kids…Then there is the manger under the tree. You can also find patterns to make nativities out of cardstock, and can probably find crafts to make 3-D sets with your kids. You may want to look into getting a nativity set (or 2 or three, lol) that is unbreakable to have at the level of the kids and put your ceramic one somewhere else where it will be just for looking at.

Actually, our breakable nativity set is the Willow Tree one. Since we don’t put our nativity sets up until the 4th Sunday of Advent, I actually have this figure from the willow tree collection on display until then: . It is not specifically a religious figurine, but I think it makes a lovely depiction of Mary for Advent.

That’s a sweet figurine…

so you wait and time it all… hmm… would def. make decorating easier!

I got my Advent Candles on Saturday. Magnificat has an Advent special. I have the prayers for the lighting of the candles, the blessing of the wreath and daily prayers. Try here and here. I also have daily activities for each day of Advent.

I love reading & hearing about what others do:)

We have an Advent wreath, we light it with prayers before we eat dinner at night. We have Jesse Tree which we add to as part of our nightly prayers. We slowly decorate, I find it takes the rush off & our Christmas specific decorations go up the week of Christmas & we keep them all through the Christmas season. It’s so sad that many people take the decorations down on the 26th when the season has just begun!

Oh, we do put up our Nativity but the baby Jesus doesn’t go in until after Christmas Mass & the Magi travel to greet Him (moving a little each day from Christmas until the Epiphany).
We celebrate St. Nicholas day & the other beautiful feasts at this time of year.

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