Have you ever wondered what the Advent season means and why it is important? I have. I didn’t grow up in a liturgical church setting. Therefore, I didn’t practice Advent as a kid.
History of the Advent Wreath and Season
For centuries, Christians have celebrated the season of Advent—the four weeks leading up to Christmas, culminating on Christmas Eve. It was a time of fasting, much like Lent.
The Advent season commemorates the millennia of waiting for Messiah, The Christ’s first appearing in a Bethlehem stable. It also looks forward to Christ’s second coming.
John Holcomb describes Advent this way:
“To balance the two elements of remembrance and anticipation, the first two Sundays in Advent look forward to Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. Over the course of the four weeks, Scripture readings move from passages about Christ’s return in judgment, to Old Testament passages about the expectation of the coming Messiah, to New Testament passages about the announcements of Christ’s arrival by John the Baptist and the Angels.”
The Advent wreath is composed of three purple (or blue) candles and a pink candle with a white center candle. Each week of Advent one candle is lit until all five candles are lit on Christmas Eve.
- First Candle (purple) – Hope
- Second Candle (purple) – Preparation/Peace
- Third Candle (pink) – Joy
- Fourth Candle (purple) – Love
- Fifth Candle (white) – Christ
Is it important to celebrate Advent?
The entire Christmas season is a time to remember the first of appearing of Jesus, our Savior. Advent reminds us of the longing of the Jewish people for their coming Messiah (the first two candles). The last two candles focus our minds on the second coming of Christ as prophesied in Scripture. If you want to celebrate Advent with your children some great resources are:
- A detailed history of the Advent Wreath
- What verses go along with each candle?
- Three sets of Advent readings
- A Mom’s Advent celebration
- Advent Ideas for Families
The Advent Calendar
Probably more common and well known is the Advent Calendar. This is something that children open up each day from December 1-24 that builds excitement for Christmas.
In our home, we had a wall hanging featuring a calendar with a star. Each day one of the children got to move the star to the next day. On December 24, the star was moved above the manger scene at the top of the calendar. Our kids loved moving the star each day and counting down to Christmas.
Your Advent commemoration doesn’t have to be elaborate. There are many different ways to help your kids get involved in the “waiting”:
- Get some boxes you can stack up or stack on a tray, number them, and fill with an ornament (see picture)
- Fashion a muffin tin with numbered circle covers that reveal an activity to do that day
- Create a tree out of whatever material you choose. On the limbs, using numbered clips, hang a verse for each day
- Cut a tree branch, place in a pot that will support it surrounded by sand. Hang numbered paper angels with dates on the tree with fun activities or special treats
- Pinterest has a bazillion ideas
The focus of both the Advent wreath and the Advent calendar is on the anticipation of Jesus’ birth. One is more formal; the other allows your creativity to shine.
In our home, it was and is important to place the emphasis on Jesus’ birthday and not on the gifts. Our desire was to promote gratitude in ourselves and our children.
In what ways do you focus you and your family on Jesus’ coming? Please share your comment with everyone below.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.