Your Advent Traditions

So this upcoming year I’ve decided that I really want to celebrate the Liturgical year, and I’m starting with Advent. The thing is, as a convert, I’ve never celebrated Advent…really. I sort of did last year while in RCIA, but not in my home. I was wondering what y’all do/did that you love, especially if any of you have an really old traditions.

So far I’ve basically learned about the Jesse Tree, the Advent Calendar, the Christmas Crib, and the Advent Wreath. I ordered a Calendar that I really like, I’m making my crib tomorrow (today I guess, it being past midnight) and the wreath I have, just have to get together. What does anyone else do?

I just started a blog too, and I want it to mainly be about Catholic Liturgical Year traditions, so if anyone wants to swing by my blog (in my signature) and leave me a comment about what they do that’d be great. Come tomorrow evening and hopefully you’ll see pictures of how I made my Crib! Thanks!

We’ve always done the wreath but I am going to add the calendar this year for Jillian, the six year old. I think she will enjoy it and it is a good way to ‘prepare’ for the birthday of Our Savior.

During Advent we put up no Christmas decorations. We have an Advent wreath we put in the middle of the dining room table. This year I am thinking about making a purple table runner to go under it. Every night during Advent we say the prayers that came with our wreath. They include the O Antiphons and another short prayer. We do put out our empty manger from our nativity, and each night we pray before the nativity a prayer asking Jesus to come into our hearts as he came into the world when he was born. We also have out the small statues of Our Lady and St. Joseph from the nativity and we have them start on the first Sunday of Avent in the farthest corner of our house, and every Sunday we move them closer to the nativity.

We did the Jesse Tree one year, but it wasn’t our favorite. Not sure if we will do it again or not.

We celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day with a big meal (and I do get out my Christmas tablecloth, dishes, etc for this meal), Mass, and small gifts in the everyone’s shoes. Here are some pictures from St. Nicholas Day last year. This year I am also going to try to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well.

On Pink Sunday last year we had an “Open House” where all our friends and family could stop buy throughout the afternoon and evening. The turn out last year wasn’t so great, but I would really love to try again this year and plan ahead a bit more so as to invite more people. Here are some pictures of the things I served last year at our open house, an advent project I worked on last year, and some of my Christmas baking. Maybe we’ll do it after Christmas this year, or closer to Christmas.

This will be our first Christmas in our own home, as last year we were at my parents’ house and observed more of their traditions. I think what we will do will be like this:

The last Sunday before Christmas we will decorate the house, trim the tree, etc. Probably this will be the day we have the open house. Christmas Eve is when my family celebrates most of it’s Christmas traditions, so we have incorporated those. We eat a dinner made up of entirely appetizers, our favorites. Afterward we might watch a Christmas movie. This year I think we’ll read the Christmas Story instead. Then we open presents (yes, on Christmas Eve, I love it!) We enjoy our gifts and go to bed. Maybe we’ll go to Midnight Mass this year. Christmas Morning we have a wonderful breakfast (DH family tradition) followed by gifts with DH family and Christmas Day at their house (and of course, Mass if we didn’t go to Midnight Mass).

So… that’s what we’ll be doing.

Several years ago my family began a tradition I really like, inspired by something we do at my parish. We celebrate the “O Antiphons” beginning December 17 leading to Christmas.

The “O Antiphons” are the verses from “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” **HERE **is an interesting article about them.

I purchased a 7-candle menorah, and we light a candle each night and sing the verse for that night.

We also have an Advent wreath and celebrate Saint Nicholas Day.


I love these ideas! Something to remember for later on.

Krista, would you mind my asking where in Canada you are? you can pm me if you want. Just curious as there’s not many Canucks on here.

Another Cdn here, in GTA.

To answer the real question.
We do the advent wreath, and calendar which is a cloth one of the manger scene so each DS puts one thing or person on the scene - star, animals, … and on the 25th he puts baby Jesus.
We put up 3 mangers, which go up before the other decorations.
Decorations normally go up weekend closest to Dec 15.

Everyone here has good ideas about Advent traditions.

One thing to think about is that in order to celebrate Advent as the time of preparation for Christmas, we need to have something that we are preparing FOR. If we have TOO many Advent traditions the time of Advent turns into something greater than Christmas itself and just becomes a substitute for it.

This is true for both secular and religious events.

So sometimes the very act of scheduling activies that one previously would have planned to do before Christmas for the 12 days following Christmas can put our hearts and minds into the Advent frame of mind. It would be wonderful if all the parties, concerts, big meals, cookie baking, etc, took place in the days starting with December 25th rather than ending with it.

1st Sunday of Advent - hang wreath on the door (green wreath w/ 4 bows – 3 purple and 1 pink :slight_smile:

2nd Sunday - choose a tree, take it home and put it in a bucket of water in the back yard.

3rd Sunday - set up tree, but don’t decorate it.

4th Sunday - decorate tree (this depends on how close Christmas is to the 4th Sunday of Advent)

When the kids were younger, we read about how other cultures celebrated Advent and Christmas. We tried making some of their traditional foods and decorations. We also read their traditional stories.

We used to do the Jesse Tree and the nightly readings at dinner time. This year, I’ll probably just do a wreath w/ candles on the dining room table. We also like to celebrate St. Nicholas Day and St. Lucy - great feast days! —KCT

**1st Sunday of Advent **- We put up the tree that will become our Christmas tree. For now, we use it as a Jesse Tree. We string the lights, but don’t plug them in. And each day we decorate it with one purple ornament depicting a Jesse Tree bible verse. We also light our advent wreath at Supper each night. This year, I’d also like to do a Christmas Crib with the children. We have been given 2 cloth advent calendars, which I don’t think are all that useful for preparing for Christmas, but because we have them, we use them also. If I had more adult time, I’d try to meditate each morning on an advent-related theme. We have a wreath with a purple bow that we hang on our front door.

**3rd Sunday of Advent **This is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. So we now plug in the lights on our Jesse Tree, and (if we have our act together), light our electric candles in the windows.

4th Sunday of Advent Now we begin decorating the house for Chrismas. Garlands up, that sort of thing.

**Christmas Eve **We take off the purple ornaments and put our Christmas Ornaments on the Christmas Tree. All the other Christmas decorations are finally completed (although hopefully some of that work was already done). We put up manger scenes but don’t put Jesus in them until Christmas morning… We have a large fancy, meat-free dinner, and some fun Christmas activity or game for the children. The purple bow gets removed from the wreath on the door, and a red bow goes in its place.

We have some special masses early in the morning throughout the Advent, especially for children. The church is not lit until Eucharistic prayers or somewhere around. Children receive some assignments, I think. It was beautiful when I was a little boy.

And the Advent hymns are wonderful too.

We always had an Advent wreath growing up and every night after dinner, my mother would light the candle (or candles, depending on the week) and we would say the rosary around it. Starting on December 16th we used to say a Christmas novena and starting on the 17th we also said special prayers and Bible readings for the “Golden Nights”.

My favourite custom was “our special friend” (it is Christkindl in German). On the first Sunday of Advent my mother would but the names of all family members into a big bowl. We each drew out one name and from then until Christmas this person was our special friend. We would try to do nice things for this person but we had to make sure we kept everything secret. We had to do at least one sepcial thing for our Christkindl each day. I loved it because I had such fun thinking of secret things I could do for my Christkindl and also finding the wonderful surprises my Christkindl would do for me.

Other things we did include:
change the family altar colours to purple,
display a statue of St. John the Baptist,
have an empty crib with Mary and Joseph slowly making their way towards it (as small children we loved moving Mary and Joseph a little closer each day and after Christmas we did the same with the 3 Wise Men),
we hung Christmas decorations and put up the Christmas tree on St. Nicholas’ Day but didn’t light any lights until Christmas Eve,
we bought a large white candle, got it blessed, put it in a beautifully decorated bowl on the sill and lit it on Christmas Eve and kept it lit until Jan 7th.

.On Christmas Eve, we never ate meat but always had seafood. It was delicious! My father always read us a story, usually “When The Animals Talk” By Rusty Calhoun. We put the lights on the tree, put the Christmas Candle in the window, changed the advent wreath to the Christmas wreath by putting one big white candle in the cnetre of the wreath and removing the purple and pink ones, and then the youngest child carried the Baby Jesus to our crib. The older children held lit candles and we sang “Silent Night” or “Away in a Manger”. We went to Mass at midnight and again on Christmas morning. We opened all our gifts when we came back from Mass except one which we kept wrapped until Epiphany.


Well, besides the Advent Wreath and calendar and putting the nativity set up minus baby Jesus, we’re decorating our tree in purple lights and ornaments.

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