Sunday, October 4, 2009


About three or four years ago, I was invited to a Cookie Swap at the home of an American friend, the dynamic Dianna. (Cookie Swaps are not the subject of this post, but I would like to note now that I think they should be on anyone’s list of ‘Great American Gifts to the World’.) It was about the 8th of December, and Dianna’s house was chock full of the most wonderful, glittering Christmas displays. I commented to her that we didn’t have anything Christmassy up at home, except the cards as they arrived, and she gasped: ‘What, you haven’t decorated your house?’I was puzzled, as our house was looking thoroughly seasonal and rather well-decorated, and I had to think for a while how this was happening. I realised that the very special decorations we were enjoying were for Advent, and were all about anticipating the Christmas that was to come, and not actual Christmas decorations themselves (with us, the Christmas decorations go up in a big family event on December 24th, with music and aperitifs). I tried to think back about how this tradition had developed, and also reflected on how well it suited our family as we prepared for Christmas and enjoyed the Advent season. These thoughts led to me volunteering a session last November at our local MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers), on Celebrating Advent with Children. We had an awful lot of fun as a group, and picked up great Advent ideas from each other.I’ve decided to spend the next few Sundays telling you about some of our Advent decorations and celebrations, and will then invite you to celebrate Advent with us this year! Please let me know about how you ‘do’ Advent in your country and your home, and get ready to share some reflections and pictures around blogland in December.


Serenata said...

This sounds like such a lovely idea and I look forward to reading your posts on advent. It seems like it is expected that Christmas decorations are set up earlier and earlier each year and I think this is part of what bothers me - where on earth do I put a tree when we don't actually have the physical room to put it when it stays up for so long whereas putting it up for Christmas Eve and having it up for the '12 days' of Christmas sounds much more suitable and in a way more special, especially if other decorations have been gradually put in place. Hope this makes sense?

bekimarie said...

What a lovely idea, will look forward to reading your posts!
I love Christmas but decorations are put up far too early and seems to ruin it because you soon (or I do) get fed up with them.
Beki xxx

Michela said...

Hi Floss!
Well, being Italy a Catholic country, Advent for the Church starts on the 4th Sunday before Christmas. The "official" date for starting with decoration is the 8th of December (on the Immaculate Conception's holiday), but shops starts at the beginning of December.
Thank you for the anticipation! I'm sure it will be fun!

Sarah said...

Wow Michela, shops start in December! Over here in little old NZ we have our first shop, an interior decorations shop, with the front window all decorated for Christmas already. I have to admit they do a fabulous job of it, but still!!! It is very normal for the major decs to go up late Oct/early Nov in the shopping centres. Just rediculous and all about making money of course.

I like the idea of advent decs first. We tend to put everything up at the beginning of Dec. I've never even thought of doing them seperately!
I look forward on seeing how it should be done.

Michela said...

...I was wondering if Son 1 will make for us "une buche de Noel".. ;-)

A Bun Can Dance said...

Dear Floss
What a super idea, I'm looking forward to the regular advent post. For us, advent is marked not least by our advent calendar, which is usually a shop bought cardboard one, but this year (Utmost Challenge!) will be a homemade calendar. I love bringing in foliage and berries to decorate the house, and plenty of candles - as well as a tree which takes over most of the lounge! My birthday is on 15th December so we usually bring in the tree and decorate it on that day or the day before - a family tradition which my Mum and Dad still continue - so for me, my birthday marks the start of Christmas celebrations- lovely! This year I am keen to create an Advent wreath with candles and foliage, to light one in each of the 4 weeks.
Have a super week
Denise x

Lululiz said...

I am German, and have grown up with the same Advent and Christmas traditions. We always had an advent wreath with 4 candles, and starting 4 Sundays before Christmas, one candle would be lit for the first Sunday, then an additional one for the next and so on. The Christmas tree was only ever put up on the 24th. When we were very little, this was done by mum and dad a couple of hours before 6pm, when we were let into the room to find the presents under the tree ( with real wax candles, btw ).

I had such a culture shock when I first moved to England. Balloons, streamers, garish decorations which to my mind had nothing to do with Christmas at all. I never did succumb to that, thankfully. We have always had the Advent Wreath. but we do put the Christmas tree up 12 days before Christmas, and leave it up til the 6th January. Mnd you, the Christmas decorations haven't changed since my boys were little, I am not allowed to. " IT IS TRADITION, MUM !! " is all I get if I dare mention changing things. Sigh, I love the Christmas Season.

The Curious Cat said...

I like this idea and post - it will make the lead up to Christmas particularly special... xxx

Anonymous said...

Floss , this is a great idea, I like it. The Advent and Christmas tradition in Hungary are the same as Lululiz mentioned in her comment.And interesting,but the situation with Christmas decorations is just the same: my husband and my son don't want to change anything,and what's more (don't tell anyone, please but) they put on the tree even the old and broken(!) decorations ,too.They say they love them and I am not allowed to throw away anything... said...

What a great post! I dont like to put up decorations too early, but when they do go up, I love them! I made a advent calendar when the children were small. Each pocket has a hand sewn picture, and the 24th pocket is bigger, as besides the chocs I used to put in, I would also put 3 small gifts, one for each child. My son still wanted me to put the calendar up even when he was 16! I love the rituals of christmas, it is something that stays with our children for life. I put the tree up about a week before christmas. I think in our house it is the baking and the cooking too which makes christmas. I never really feel christmassy until I can smell cinnamin, and herbs from making, fresh stuffing, cranberry jelly and bread sauce! Sorry for waffling, you have started something with this post I think! Suzie. xxx

BusyLizzie said...

just a quick thank you for your tip on French spelling/pronunciation. Lizzie x

Lola Nova said...

I am so looking forward to hearing and seeing your traditions.

American Christmas is already in full swing and for sale in the big shopping stores, ugh! As for me, I grew up without any holidays (due to my mother's beliefs)so I am still figuring out what our traditions are. We have some traditions that we have started with the 3 of us that I really enjoy.

Every other year we fly to the midwest to spend holidays with my husband's family. His family is huge and there are many events and dinners and festivities. Tons of Christmas decorations!

This year is our 'at home' year and I love it. A small tree put up not too early. We give each other a tree ornament every year and decorate together. We don't own many decorations but a few special handmade ones get put on the mantle. We build fires and drink cocoa and play games and music. I will have to ask my husband about Advent to see if he remembers any special traditions.

Oh now you got me thinking about those cozy family nights, can't wait to warm my muppet hands by the fire!

Sarah said...

What lovely traditions you all have. Unfortunately our girls are rather stuck with the way things should be done too. I'm quite keen to put the tree up much later this year, we usually do it near the 1st Dec. I know I will be flattened with that suggestion but I can only try.

I used to make an advent wreath and I will this year. I hav an embroidered advent calendar that I stitched many years ago. I would love some suggestions as to what others put in the wee bags. Always difficult but even more now with the challenge. I do like a challenge though!

re said...

We don't put up our decorations until Christmas Eve either. My Grandmother never did and it's just something that I carried on despite the pleading of children when they were little. The 3 wise men don't go on the Nativity until Epithany either.

Pomona said...

It was really interesting to read this - I have tended to put up the Christmas tree the weekend before Christmas after school has finished - around the 20th. Because we have a real tree, either growing in a pot, or a previous year's one from the garden, it would not withstand a month inside. The children have always had advent calendars, and the ones I have bought have always been the ones with nativity scenes or with the Christmas story as a quotation each day. Our decorations are mainly homemade, or old ones - I try to counteract the consumerist, greedy side of Christmas, and focus on the story - but it can be quite difficult in the face of outside influences!

Pomona x