As we are now in the last month of an unusually challenging year, it’s understandable the anticipation of the new year ahead now more than ever before. However, before they usher in a brand new year, Christians across the globe are currently celebrating Advent – the coming of Christ – signifying the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day.
Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, there are many fun and meaningful ways that families can connect to celebrate Advent together this month before Christmas morning arrives.
Make your Own Advent Wreath
When Christians think about Advent, most envision its most famous symbol – the advent wreath adorned with five (oftentimes just four) candles. The candles typically center around a different theme and color each week, including hope, faith, joy, peace and love and, lastly regeneration.
As a fun, family activity, crafting an Advent wreath - either using real candles, drawings or paper cut outs, is a great way to discuss the meaning of Advent with your children.
The first prophecy candle on the wreath symbolizes hope – or the coming of Jesus Christ – and is purple (or blue). The second Bethlehem candle is also purple (or blue) to symbolize faith and preparation. The third Shepard candle is colored pink and symbolizes joy. The fourth, the Angel candle, is purple (or blue) to represent peace and love. Finally, the last – the Advent candle – found in the center of the wreath is white to symbolize the coming of Christ as purity, light, and regeneration.
Serve Others During Advent
As a family, each Advent season is a great time to either start or continue a yearly tradition of giving back to others. By involving your children, you are showing the importance of helping others by leading through example and every year your family can anticipate this tradition. There are so many ways to help others. Check out your local Salvation Army or United Way to see what’s most in need right now. Many organizations are accepting wrapped or unwrapped children’s gifts as well as food donations. Consider creating an Advent Food Basket collection, with the goal in mind of providing a family all the ingredients to make a full, Christmas dinner. If your family is also into crafting, make Christmas cards and coordinate with a neighborhood nursing home to deliver or pick them up. A simple drawing and message can go a long way to brighten up someone’s day.
Craft an Advent Jar
For more crafting fun, create an Advent jar like this one. After decorating an empty glass jar, write down some easy, yet meaningful tasks, keeping the ages and interest level of your children in mind, on folded up pieces of paper, or on popsicle sticks as shown in the example. Families could make a habit of each night during Advent, of choosing an activity from the jar to enjoy the next day. Some examples may include, watching a Christmas movie together, assembling your nativity scene, read a Advent/Christmas book, writing a letter to Santa or enjoying a family pizza night. Parents could even include Bible passages about Advent on the back of the notes.
Take Time for Personal Reflection
While Advent is a time for Christians to anticipate the coming of Jesus, it’s also a time for quiet reflection. This year has certainly given us time to think about what’s most important to us like our health, friendships, and families. During December and this Advent season, consider keeping a family journal to capture memories before we usher in a New Year. Each member of your family can write down or draw pictures of their best memories from this past year. Questions may include: What are some of your dreams for 2021, who are your best friends, and what was the best thing that our family did together this year?
Throughout the rest of the month of December, there are so many ways that families can celebrate Christmastime together. Making them aware that the season is more about what you give than receive is most important. Even the simplest of gestures like reading a book about Advent or explaining to your child what Advent means, can resonate with them for years to come. Enjoy the season!