10 Ways to Celebrate Advent without being a scrooge
by Jeremy Helmes
Use greenery and candles to decorate your home for Advent… and not just in your Advent wreath! Evergreens aren’t just for Christmas, they are good for winter in general, including Advent. Same with candles: don’t overlook candlelight for great Advent home décor.
Lean into Advent celebrations in your parish that have a Christmas feeling. Participate in a Lessons and Carols service. Celebrate the Immaculate Conception (on December 9 this year) and Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12).
Create an Advent playlist full of your favorite Advent carols. You know that every FM station and internet streaming service will offer 24/7 pop Christmas music. How about instead of one more rendition of “Here Comes Santa Claus,” enjoy a classic Advent carol like “Sans Day Carol,” or listen to the first section of Handel’s “Messiah,” or perhaps your favorite setting of “Ave Maria”?
Use purple and pink in creative ways. While the official liturgical colors are “violet” and “rose,” purple and pink can bring an “Advent” look to any occasion! Do you have a purple sweater? Do you have a rose scarf? Paint your nails with Advent flair!
Poinsettias! These flowers aren’t just for Christmas Day. White and pink poinsettias can bring a “wintery” look to your home or office even during Advent. (Perhaps save those red ones for December 25, though.)
Creche creativity! Don’t be afraid to let your home’s nativity scene change throughout the Advent/Christmas cycle. Perhaps the creche is setup on the First Sunday of Advent, but empty for a few weeks. Slowly, shepherds and animals arrive. Then, Mary and Joseph appear by the fourth week of Advent. After the Christ child arrives on December 25, leave your nativity scene up for the kings’ entrance on January 6!
Mix it up on December 17. Advent has two phases: the first focuses on Christ’s return at the end of time. The second phase, which begins December 17, is more focused on Christ’s first coming as a child in Bethlehem. Think of Advent as a marathon that finishes with a sprint.
Pick your favorite Advent saint.Advent offers us so many different holy men and women as intercessors and to reflect upon in our prayer. Perhaps each of the four weeks could focus on a different saint or prophet: Mary, Joseph, Isaiah, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist and others. Learn about their lives. Decorate your home with an image of the week’s saint.
Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas without making it into a “pre-Christmas.” How can we make December 6 a special, festive Advent day? What new family traditions could you start? A simple idea would be to attend Mass as a family that day and go out for breakfast or dinner.
When someone wishes you a Merry Christmas respond, “Merry Christmas to you, too, and Happy Advent!” Make sure you’re ready to teach someone about Advent when they ask you what you mean!
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