Tomorrow marks the first day of Advent, where, on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, families light one, two, three, and then finally on the last day all four candles on a beautiful, fragrant wreath. Many of you will know Advent as the entire month leading up to Christmas, as days marked on a pretty calendar, sometimes with pieces of chocolate hiding behind little windows. This is also done here, a tradition loved by children (and me!). But there is something sacred about lighting those candles. You are reminded of Christ, his ultimate sacrifice, and his messages of love and peace. I am not a member of any church, but I still recognize the sanctity and worth of Christ's teachings and their relevance in these modern times.
Other ideas for Advent include hanging a tiny string of wrapped gifts or treats, one for each day before Christmas, and Country Living also had the lovely idea for Advent of hanging up numbered cards and tiny ornaments. One year I sent my mother an 'Advent Package,' where there were 25 little gifts wrapped up and numbered. I gave her things like lip balm, pastilles, and hand-painted seasonal quotes. She loved it. It was a way of celebrating the holidays on a day-to-day basis while being continents apart.
above picture from country living magazine
I picked up my Advent Kranz, or wreath, at the farmer's market yesterday. Have a look! I love picking mine out each year. Last year it had a red candy cane and dried pink roses. This year it has , among other things, dried red roses, cinnamon sticks, baby pine cones, and golden stars.
It's been interesting getting to know the Austrian Christmas tradition. Did you know that here, they celebrate and open gifts on the evening of December 24th? That's something I don't think I'll ever warm up to. I loved the feeling of lying in bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to hear some sound of Santa Claus and his reindeer on the roof...and then waking up in the early morning and seeing the gifts under the tree, having magically appeared while I slept.
Luckily Ramon's sister celebrates with her husband's family on the 24th, so we have a classic American Christmas on the 25th, with a big roast beef or turkey, and lots of cookies and cake.
But more about all of those details later....
Now, it's time for Advent!
Enjoy this holiday season...I hope I've inspired you to celebrate Advent this year, or the next!