The four weeks before Christmas – known as Advent – is a time to prepare the way for Jesus in our hearts and in our homes. By taking on one or two traditions, families can engage richly in the seasons of Advent and Christmas. The following activities outline ways you and your family can live Advent and Christmas to the fullest.
The Advent Wreath:: The Advent wreath is probably the most recognized Advent custom. It is a wreath made of evergreens that are shaped into a circle. The wreath holds four equally spaced candles, the three purple ones lit on the penitential Sundays and a pink one for the joyful third Sunday in Advent.
The Empty Manger: Each child may have their own individual manger, but we suggest there should be one manger for the whole family. The idea is that when acts of service or kindness are made the child receives a piece of straw to put into the manger. On Christmas morning, Baby Jesus is placed in the manger. The challenge is to make Jesus ‘bed’ as comfortable as possible through doing ‘good’ and thinking of the needs of others more than our own.
The Jesse Tree: The Jesse tree tells about Jesus’ ancestry through symbols and relates Scripture to history, from creation to the birth of Christ. The tree can be made on a poster board with the symbols glued on, or on an actual tree. It is a highlight of the Advent season. Find more information at http://cathfamily.org/making-your-own-jesse-tree
Blessing of the Tree: More and more families are blessing their Christmas trees. There are many different stories that attempt to explain why we use a tree at Christmas. The fir tree is the wood of peace, the sign of an endless life with its evergreen branches. It points to heaven.
Dear God, Two thousand years ago, you brought your son, Jesus into this world to teach us the power of love. As we bless this tree, we remember his birth and the meaning of his life for us. May this tree be a symbol of our celebration of Jesus’ birth and our gratitude for his sacrifice. May the joy this tree brings and the gifts we place under it remind us of the many gifts you have given us. We ask your blessings upon our family and all our loved ones, this day and always. Amen