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Favorite Advent/Christmas Traditions


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Advent wreath with four candles. Candles are lit beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, third and so on. There are also devotional books just for the season. I should look at a few again.

I have a lot of candles during the holiday season because I like the glow and smell of beeswax.

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We also light Advent candles.  We always do an evening devotion, but this makes it a bit extra special.  We set up the candles & wreath alongside our nativity.  They take turns lighting the candles and blowing them out.  We sometimes have an Advent calendar as well...this year I splurged on a Playmobil calendar.  


Another tradition that I've recently started is to bake a batch of cookies with each child.  We used to make them all together, but now that I have 5 kids, it gets a bit chaotic.  A few years ago I let them each pick a recipe to make with me, and it's much more enjoyable!  It also gives them some individual time with mom.  We stick to simple things like dipped pretzels or spritz cookies.


We also give them new PJs on Christmas Eve...not too exciting, but a tradition none the less!  

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Our family is Eastern Orthodox and these are some of our (small-t, family-based) traditions: 

  • We have a lent-style fast leading up to Nativity, an attempt to not celebrate before the actual feast day. We try to go to church more, be more regular with our daily prayers, give more of our love, time and money, etc. 
  • We try to do some kind of countdown of the 40 days (Orthodox advent starts Nov. 15). We just purchased this -- we're late this year -- and hope it arrives soon. 
  • Kids put a shoe out on Dec. 5th for St. Nicholas commemoration the next day (we put a small gift, some gold chocolate coins and a mandarin orange in them)
  • Turn on outside lights for the first time on Dec. 12 or 13, remembering St. Lucia, the saint of light
  • Put Christmas tree up on (or just after) Dec. 20 which is the first time we sing, "Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the tree of life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave!" in church services
  • Go to the midnight Divine Liturgy on the Christmas eve, receiving the Eucharist soon after midnight -- enjoy a non-lenten meal with parish folks afterward. Get home at about 4:00 a.m and then put out some stuff for morning.  I get to bed at about 5:00am!
  • After an all-too-brief 3-4 hours of sleep, we have a family morning on Christmas day (presents, breakfast) with a pizza party with friends from church that evening at our house
  • Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by going to church more, getting together with friends, going ice skating and doing other fun winter-based things.  We keep our tree up until the end of this time, or maybe even a little bit longer. 
  • We have the great Feast of Theophany at the end of the 12 Days, which commemorates Christ's baptism at the river, so we attend church and the blessing of the outdoor waters that day (Jan. 6). We have a creek on our church property so that's where our parish goes for this blessing. 
  • In some ways, the Nativity season can be lengthened to include the great Feast of the Presentation of Christ at the Temple on Feb. 2 so that's when we really wrap everything up. 
Edited by milovany
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We do a Jesse Tree during Advent (52 days, since our Advent fast is 40 days + 12 days of Christmas).


Dh and I put up our tree on Christmas Eve after all the kids are in bed. They like to tell everybody that St. Nicholas brings it.


We put our shoes out for St. Nicholas day.


Everyone gets new pjs on Christmas Eve.


Our Christmas picture books come out little by little throughout Advent.


We sing carols together at the piano.


We have a special breakfast for Christmas morning - I make it ahead and pop it in the oven when everybody gets up.

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