Nov 13, 2011

Advent and the Newsletter

We live in a very small town (700 or so people) of mostly one religion.  And it's not mine.  My family and I are the token non-Mormon people in our tiny town.  But that's okay, since they are such good, loving people.  (I have nothing against Mormons. I grew up in SLC, attended my share of Mormon church functions, and my sister is Mormon.)

But every Christmas we get asked about the traditions our family observes as part of our non-(town)-standard religion.  And invariably, we get asked to be interviewed to put one or two traditions in the local newsletter.  Which is awesome, since my 15 minutes of fame aren't at all used up!

So when we got asked this year not only if I would write a small piece about traditions, but also my oldest daughter, it was bonus.  I decided to write about the Advent Wreath, since Mormons don't usually know what those are, nor do they use them in their homes.  I'm going to post it here, since I realized (in looking for the easy way out, looking for something I had already written about Advent Wreaths) that I had nothing, NOTHING about Advent Wreaths, what they are or how we use them.

Shame, shame.

So here it is, the draft I submitted to our amazing local newsletter.  Bet I'm famous at the town Christmas party in two weeks!

In the four weeks before Christmas, known as Advent, our family gathers around our child crafted Advent Wreath to celebrate the coming of Christ.  Our wreath is made up of evergreen scraps, three purple candles, one pink candle, arranged in a circle, and one white candle in the middle.  

Each Sunday before dinner we light a new candle signifying that week and say a few special prayers and read a Bible verse.  The first, second, and fourth week have a purple candle.  The third week is a pink candle, which is for Gaudete Sunday, when we especially celebrate the joy of the anticipation of the coming of Christ.  On Christmas, we light the big white candle in the middle, the Christ candle.  This is one that signifies the Jesus has finally arrived in our midst.  The kids take turns lighting the candles before dinner and blowing them out afterwards.  

Keepsake Kreations

At church each Sunday, the church has it's own, larger version of the Advent Wreath which is lit at each Mass, but it is especially beautiful at Midnight Mass.  Christian tradition says that Jesus was born at night, so Midnight Mass is rooted in the belief that Christ was born at midnight on Christmas.

Our Advent Wreath tradition is one that I hope my children will take into their future with joy at the memories we created.

And what do you know?  After I spent all that time scouring my brain for just the RIGHT words, I found Keepsake Kreations with their most awesome description:

Christmas Candle reflection for each Sunday of Advent.

Advent's 1st Sunday (Purple Candle) - Prophet's Candle, symbolising Hope that Jesus is Coming

Advent's 2nd Sunday (Purple Candle)- Bethlehem's Candle, Symbolising Faith of Mary & Joseph

Advent's 3rd Sunday (Pink Candle) - Shepherd's Candle, Symbolising Joy of Jesus' Birth

Advent's 4th Sunday (Purple Candle) - Angel's Candle, Symbolising the Message of the Angels

Christmas Eve (White Candle) - Christ Candle, Symbolising the birth of Jesus Christ. - The light of the World
Candles are lit to symbolise the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Christ.

On the first, second and fourth Sundays of advent a purple candle is lit (each Sunday the candle from the previous Sunday is re-lit).

The colour purple as used during the period of lent, reminds us to prepare a welcome for Jesus during the Advent season.

On the third Sunday of advent a pink candle is lit. Pink is the colour of joy to remind us that we should be ready to welcome christ at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve the white candle is lit to celebrate the Birth of Christ - The Light of the World.

In the first week of Advent, one purple candle is lighted each evening , in the second week, two purple candles are lighted each day, in the third week, three candles purple & pink are lighted and so on until Christmas Day.

Advent is one of the few Christian festivals that can be celebrated in both the family home and parish church. During the holiday season it is traditional for an Christmas advent wreath to be placed on the dining table, every Sunday during the four weeks of advent, prayers and Scripture readings are read by family members then a new advent candle is lit. The same candles are lit each mealtime during the week.

I should have just submitted theirs.

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