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Since it is our first Advent/Christmas together as a married couple, we’re trying to figure out what traditions we should start and where to go over Christmas break. Tom and I attempt to follow the Church’s liturgical calendar in our everyday lives. (Honestly, not really doing that a whole lot lately, though.) That being said, we want to make the weeks before the big day (Dec 25th) build in anticipation. Approximately 10 seconds after walking into any store/mall/restaurant/whatever one hears Christmas music from Thanksgiving through Dec 25. One whole month of anticipating Christmas by already celebrating Christmas before it’s already here! No wonder Dec. 26th always seemed like the worst day ever as a kid! Most people are so sick of all the Christmas-y celebrations that there is a decisive cut off exactly when it would be awesome to party on.

I love being Catholic for many reasons, but as I get older I realize how great our Advent preparation and Christmas celebrations are. Advent is pretty much as long as the whole “Christmas from Thanksgiving to Dec 25th” thing except it has a decisively different focus. Instead of celebrating the Christ child’s arrival (or I guess, just Santa for some people) in the time before He arrives, we have a period of intense and joyful waiting. We walk through salvation history, the stories of God’s love from the beginning of creation and fulfillment of his promises to take care of us up through giving his son, our own savior.

The best part of a Catholic celebration of Christmas is that Christmas carries on for 8 days of major partying, and then the celebratory season continues till January 13th!! Each day of those initial 8 days in the Church are meant to be as joyful as Dec 25th. Let me tell you, anticipating God’s arrival in this solemn way beforehand REALLY makes one appreciative and joyful that Jesus has finally arrived. Advent helps one to realize the need for a savior and how things are dry and barren without him. Once Christmas has arrived…oh man! What a celebration!

So, in order to help us along in our preparations, there are a couple of traditions that I have started for our own home:

DSC03350Our advent wreath: Each week during Advent we light another candle, helping us countdown to Christmas. 1st, 2nd & 4th Sundays are purple and 3rd Sunday is pink because it is Gaudete Sunday and it is a time to be joyful in our anticipation and preparation because we are almost there to Christmas!!

I bought the wreath, mini poinsettias, and gold pine branch from Michaels. (Man, was it hard to find purple anything at that store!) We bought the candles and holder online because…

Advent CandlesPhoto Credit: Catholicmemes.com

I also started a Jesse Tree. There is an ornament for every day of Advent and a bible verse that walks us through Salvation History, God’s love and salvation throughout time. The bible verses I used are here.DSC03364As you can see, the “tree” element is missing. Oh well, maybe next year!

DSC03363I bought mini gold ornaments and wrote/attempted to draw the symbols on them with a back paint pen.  My plan was to buy/find sticks to put into a vase and hang the ornaments off of them. The sticks never materialized.