A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Advent calendar is one of our most beloved Christmas traditions, right up there with trimming the tree and laying out milk and cookies for Santa Claus. But where does it come from -- and in our busy 21st century world, where is it going?
The term "Advent" is actually a religious term referring to the four weeks leading up to Christmas (or the "advent" of Christ). That means Advent usually doesn't begin on December 1st but at the end of November. In practical terms, though, people have used December 1st as the beginning of their countdown for over three hundred years.
People have always enjoyed having something to look forward to, and even before the frenzied commercialism of gift giving, Christmas was a season to remember, and Christmas traditions helped people count down the days. As early as the 17th century, families would mark chalk lines on the walls to give themselves a visual reference as to how many days remained until the holiday.

We often associate Christmas traditions with Victoriana with good reason. Christmas really enjoyed itself in the 19th century! Long before Queen Victoria's husband brought the German tradition of the Christmas tree to England, German families had marked the days to Christmas with wreaths, pictures, and various other physical actions.
In fact, it was shortly after the turn of the century, in the early 1900s, when the first Advent calendar was actually printed commercially.

Of course, most people nowadays associate Christmas traditions with getting something, and that's why so many Advent calendars have chocolate treats hidden behind their doors. There have been many criticisms of these modern Advent calendars, which some believe buy too strongly into commercial Christmas and move away from what is essentially Advent.
Other countries have opened their own Christmas traditions to countdown. In Scandinavia, for example, there is actually a television show that begins on December 1st and ends on the 24th. These shows give the entire country a method of counting down to Christmas together.
But for the true Advent calendar, the place to be remains Germany. Many communities transform buildings in their towns (or in one memorable case, a town hall with twenty four windows) into living Advent calendars, with beautiful Christmas scenes illuminated one by one as the days to Christmas pass by. Most believe that the Advent calendar originated in Germany, but like so many Christmas traditions, it has spread to the entire world.

We always had an advent calendar for our family. It was hung on the refrigerator and each day the kids would open one of the little windows. It was part of our "tradition"
Today, I am going to make a advent wreath to place on our breakfast nook table. On Friday the " Church Mice" will be busy changing our altar decorations at St. Mary's. Our colors go from green to violet. The seasons change so fast.

Our Church bid goodbye to our wonderful Monsignor Brodeski. He has been at our Church such a short time, but in that time we have all come to love him. He's a young Priest, in his 30's, and has made such changes in our Church. He will be replaced by a Priest from Nigeria. We had a huge party for Father yesterday. A soloist sang ...An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

There wasn't a dry eye in the room.


Mary said...

An Old Irish Blessing brings back memories of my 12 years of Catholic schooling and the song that always put a knot in my throat.

That photo is putting me in the mood, Balisha!


Rose said...

I used to have an Advent calendar when my children were younger--it was a felt Christmas tree with all kinds of sequined felt ornaments that I had made from a kit. The children fought to take turns hanging each day's ornament up until Christmas. Now it's packed away I don't know where. Thanks for the memories, Balisha, and for the interesting info about some of our cherished Christmas traditions.