Happy New Year, Catholics! It’s a new liturgical year for us as Catholics which, as you probably know by now, starts with Advent. Personally, I have seen posts about Advent for several weeks now on practically every blog I follow, including this one. The Catholic blogosphere is full of Advent craft projects, Advent books to read, and unique Advent traditions. You can fill your Advent with lots of activities or you can keep it simple. So what do the Sistas do for Advent with their families? I learned a lot in putting this post together, hope you do too. Without further ado … the seven popular Advent traditions of the Catholic Sistas.
Traveling Nativity Figures
In my family we put out our Nativity set with all the figures except the Baby Jesus and the Wise Men. Baby Jesus gets added on Christmas Eve and the Wise Men travel through the house until the Feast of the Epiphany. However, some of the Sistas shared with me that they have the Mary and Joseph figures travel through their homes throughout all of Advent until they arrive on Christmas Eve. I love this idea!
What special traditions do you have with your Nativity set?
Slow, Methodical Christmas Decorating
What’s your Christmas decorating strategy? Do you get everything up the day after Thanksgiving? Do it sometime in early- to mid-December? Or maybe you do what some of the Sistas do and decorate a little at a time? This idea is so appealing to me (though I know my husband wouldn’t go for it). Pull out the Advent wreath for the first Sunday of Advent, maybe put the Christmas wreath on the door, too. By week two you can pull out a few more decorations, get the Nativity set up, and maybe the stockings out. You could also get the tree up at week three and decorate it just before Christmas, or put it up at the beginning of Advent and decorate it throughout the season. There are a million different ways you could incorporate this idea into your Advent traditions.
How do you decorate for Christmas? All at once or throughout Advent?
St. Nicholas’ Day
This was a tradition I did not grow up with as an Irish Catholic, but I think it’s a really neat one. Traditionally, children put their shoes out on the Eve of St. Nicholas’ feast day (Dec. 6) and during the night he comes and leaves them little treats in their shoes. Read more about the traditions of St. Nick’s Day over at Catholic Icing.
What St. Nick traditions do you celebrate in your family?
The Advent Calendar
Did you have an Advent Calendar growing up? Do you use one each year with your kids? I remember having them when I was little. We always had the little paper/cardboard ones you bought that had a small piece of chocolate behind the door. I love that there are so many varieties of Advent calendars now.
Do you use an Advent calendar with your children?
Are you familiar with the Jesse Tree tradition? I had never heard of this one until just a few years ago and I’m still pretty unfamiliar with it. But several of the Sistas do this with their children each year. It’s a great way to incorporate a craft into your daily schedule. Or not. As with many Advent traditions, you can do this several different ways.
It’s easy to find more information on the Jesse tree through some simple internet searches. For some crafts to do for your Jesse Tree, check out this Pinterest Board. And here is another Jesse Tree craft along with the story, and suggested Scripture reading. And finally, check out this helpful booklet with Scripture for each day.
For another awesome Jesse Tree idea, check out friend of the Catholic Sistas, Elisa, who blogs at Elisa Loves. In her Advent post from a couple years ago you can see her family’s Jesse Tree in the corner of one of her beautiful pictures.
If you have a Jesse Tree, tell us about it.
Advent Wreath and Scripture Study/Prayer/Other Reading
I think one of the most popular Advent traditions is the Advent wreath. In my household it is the one thing we are consistent with year after year. Most of the Catholic Sistas also keep the tradition of the Advent wreath in their homes as well. In addition, many of us pair this tradition with some other sort of study or prayer. There are many different types of Advent reflection books available that can be used each night of Advent. Just read them as part of your wreath lighting each day. Some families do their family Rosary around the Advent wreath, read an encyclical, Scripture, or do some other sort of family prayer or scripture study together.
What special Advent traditions does your family have for around the Advent wreath?
The Unwrapping of Advent/Christmas Books
I read a blog post years ago about this very thing and then one of our ink slingers told me she does this in her family and I was excited to hear that more people do this. I haven’t done this in my family yet, but I’m looking forward to starting this tradition in a few years. I just need to start building up my book collection! So here’s the idea: You wrap up all your Advent or Christmas themed books and each night of Advent your kids get to unwrap one that you read as a family. I love that these are books the kids only see at this time of the year, so they feel new each time. And you never know what you’re going to get each night.
What are some of your favorite Advent themed books for kids of all ages?
For more Quick Takes fun, visit Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary.