For as long as I can remember my family has celebrated the season of Advent together. On December 1st my mom hung the handmade felt Christmas tree and we tucked the sequin and bead-adorned ornaments into each of the twenty four pockets below the tree. Each day of the month my brother and I took turns removing one of the detailed ornaments and placing it on the tree. On Sundayevenings we ate at the dining room table, a candle-laden wreath in the center. After the meal we read from an Advent devotional and lit a candle. These are some of my sweetest family memories.
But what exactly is Advent? The word Advent comes from the Latin advenio which means “to come” and refers to the coming of Christ. The season of Advent is a celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, and the coming of Christ in our lives each day. It is a season of expectation, preparation and celebration of Christ’s birth.
People celebrate Advent in different ways. Some celebrate all 24 days before Christmas, beginning on the first Sunday of the month. When I was a child we often had chocolate Advent calendars that we opened on each day of December. Others only celebrate on the four Sunday’s before Christmas, often by lighting a candle on an Advent wreath.
The Advent wreath is a custom which originated among German Lutherans. It consists of four candles (three purple and one pink or blue) arranged in a circle with evergreen boughs, and often a fifth, white candle in the center. The Advent wreath corresponds to the four Sundays of Advent. The purple candles represent repentance, the pink candle reminds us of the hope coming, and the white candle, represents Christ. The light of the candles signifies the light of Christ, who comes into the world at Christmas.
For me, Advent is all about taking a moment each day in December to focus my heart and mind on Jesus. I know this is something I should be doing every day (and I try) but it’s even more important during this season because its so easy to get caught up in the craziness – the shopping and baking and decorating – and forget about about our Savior.
Now that I have my own little family, the idea of creating Christmas traditions excites me, so much that I’ve been inspired to create a simple and straightforward Advent devotional for my family and yours! My hope is that We Will Wait will help focus our hearts on Jesus during a time that is often about everything else but Him. I hope together we can carve out a few minutes in our day to light a candle, read a few verses, and reflect on the hope, peace, joy and love of the Christmas season.
What are your favorite Advent traditions?