Today Advent has begun. It is a time of anticipation and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Our family has several Advent traditions, some of our tradition have been passed on to us from our parents and others we’ve discovered on our own. I strive for simplicity during the Advent season, regardless I often feel harried and disorganized as this time of year approaches. Surprisingly, this has not been the case this year. Part of me wonders if it’s because my children are getting older or maybe our traditions are finding roots and becoming a familiar rhythm to us. Regardless of the reason I am glad that this Advent is beginning with both peace and excitement.
This year we set up our Jesse Tree, Advent wreath and Nativity scene the day before Advent began. The Jesse Tree is a biblical Advent calendar of sorts. I made my own Jesse Tree out of felt a few years ago but there are many variations out there, both simple and complex. Jessica over at Shower of Roses has some wonderful Jesse Tree resources (click here and here) if you are interested. We use The Advent Jesse Tree book as our guide for the Bible readings.
The Advent wreath, a wreath of evergreens with four candles, three purple and one pink, is something we light each night during our Jesse Tree activities. As each Sunday during Advent passes we light another candle on the wreath until all four are lit. An Advent wreath is simple to make, our church had an Advent wreath making party which was fabulous! They supplied the boughs and we brought our own supplies. You can make a wreath out of felt, paper, real or fake greens or simply have four candles on a plate or tray. Some families pray a special prayer each time they light their wreath, simple is best I think.
I adore Nativity scenes and I am only limited by the places I have to put them, which are not many. We have a large Nativity scene that we set out in a prominent place. We leave out baby Jesus and the wise men from the Nativity scene and add them later when the time comes (Christmas Day and the Epiphany). The other nativity scenes, including a Playmobil Nativity scene, I place around the house, here and there.
Our new tradition this year is the Advent book basket. I have finally collected enough Christmas and winter themed books for this unique tradition, inspired by Jessica at Shower of Roses. I wanted to sew cloth bags for each book because I dislike the wastefulness of Christmas wrapping paper but eventually I accepted that this year it was not going to happen. After much procrastination my husband forced me to buy wrapping paper. For each day of Advent I wrapped a book. Each night after our Jesse tree we will unwrap and read a picture book together. We started our Advent by reading Waiting for Christmas: A Story about the Advent Calendar. For a great list of Advent and Christmas books click here.