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Old 12-09-2008, 02:36 AM
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Default Advent

Do any of you people around the world do anything special for advent? We have a couple of traditions here, but as far as I know they're relatively regional.

For instance nearly every household has an advent wreath with four candles on. You light the first one on the first advent weekend, and then add one more candle every weekend, until bam, on Xmas you have all four candles burning. Our lovely wreath was made by the children this year.

Then we have advent callenders for children, another form of countdown where they can open one little window/door/parcel each day starting on December 1. In my day you just got a different little picture a day, but nowadays they usually get a piece of chocolate at the very least. There are tons of commercial ones, but I always make one of my own too, with 25 little presents arranged in some way or other - hanging from the curtain rail this year... They have to take turns opening them though - much as I love my kids, 75 little parcels would be too much!

Oh... and yes, that is a mosaic windowsill you can see on the second picture
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  #2  
Old 12-09-2008, 06:45 AM
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Default Re: Advent

Hi,

As you can probably guess traditions vary in the United States sometimes quite a bit. Both Advent wreaths and Advent calendars are found here in the states, but not all families use them. Frequently the Advent wreath becomes part of the church observance. In my own church each week a certain family is selected to light a candle and a read a section of Scripture. The center of the wreath contains a large white candle, which is lit on Christmas day or the Christmas service if there isn't one on Christmas day.

Some families do have their own Advent wreaths at home, but it's not as common a custom here. That may not be true in other regions of the country with stronger Swedish and Swiss traditions.

There's nothing quite so American as adopting other people's traditions. Nowadays you see people making breads and puddings and other items traditional to other cultures. A couple years ago, a lot of folks were trying traditional cake baked into a can and I won't pretend that I can pronounce it, let alone spell it. Despite the many jokes and complaints evidently fruitcake is still a very popular item, judging by the traditional endcap of baking goods at the grocery store...

I have had an Advent wreath in addition to the Christmas tree in years past, but I nixed both this year. Small house, plus multiple cats, plus Christmas tree/things with candles equals disaster in the making...
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:57 AM
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Default Re: Advent

We have an Advent calendar- which my mom made so many years ago I don't remember not having it. This one is cool, since you take out the figures and pin them on the tree, and then you put them back later and you never know which one you'll get on a given day. Except for Christmas Eve, when Santa Claus comes out. You do have to put that one back in the same place every time.

I remember when my brother and I were very small- he always wanted to "go first" and we argued mightily. Until the year I realized that the rule of even and odd meant that if he went first I got Santa Claus. So, I let him go first and the next year, I volunteered to let him go first.... and my mom figured out what I was doing....and made me go first. Drat.

The string of presents is really neat. I don't think I've ever seen that before. We used to have an advent wreath with candles on the table when the kids were little. It was always made as part of Sunday School. I probably ought to revive that one, since I always liked having the candles on the table.

I gradually decorate the house- start small and then work my way up. The tree and the decorations stay up until Epiphany, and then they get put away. When I stilll lived with my parents, we never, ever had a tree until just a few days before Christmas- my dad believed that Advent was Advent and Christmas was Christmas, and he didn't like the way the culture skipped over Advent. By starting my decorating small and working my way up, I figure I'm doing sort of the same "waiting and anticipating". (he would probably not agree!)
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Old 12-09-2008, 07:12 AM
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I like your idea of starting small and moving up decorating. That's cool!

In my mother's generation the Christmas tree did not go up until Christmas eve, and the kids had nothing to do with decorating it. The parents would put up the tree after the kids gone to bed in the first time that they would see the tree was on Christmas morning. Now, we always put our tree up around the first of December, but my mom and my dad would both tell me about how they did it when they were young. (My parents were both born close to the turn-of-the-century, so they were a lot older than most other kid's parents.) The year my mom died, she had been invalid for a while, I got a live tree and put it up for on Christmas Eve just like they'd done when she was a child.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:27 AM
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Ahh, thats a nice advent calendar Elizabeth! What a lovely idea, maybe I should try making something like that one year. I'm glad to hear that the tradition is more wide-spread than I thought. The children enjoy it so much, it'd be a pity not to spread it around.

We actually have a real mixture of Swiss and English traditions in our family. Did you know that Father Xmas comes on the 6th of December around here? A real live (Dad dressed up as) father Xmas, who reads out from a long list what you did right and wrong. Its pretty cool, he never visited me when I was small, but I love organising it for my kids.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:41 AM
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Default Re: Advent

Felt and burlap is all the calendar's made of. If you're handy with scissors and glue, you've got it made.
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:40 AM
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Default Re: Advent

We just use the cardboard variety with chocolate inside, but I covet this one:

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Old 12-12-2008, 08:57 AM
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That's pretty cool. What's in all the little drawers?

I was thinking about making a gingerbread house this year... if I have the time. We used to make them when we were little. I don't know if I can find the gum drops to make the shingles, though.
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Old 12-12-2008, 03:26 PM
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Default Re: Advent

I'm pretty sure you have to fill all the drawers yourself. Cqandy would be an obvious choice, but I could imagine getting creative and finding all sorts of fun little surprises.

We've made several thousand gingerbread houses over the last 30+ years. I only need to make about 30 this year, though. I'd be happy to share the recipe we use, if you're interested. It's originally from Hans Rafert, who used to be a white house pastry chef. It's a tasty recipe, unlike a lot out there.
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:44 PM
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Default Re: Advent

-raises hand-

If he doesn't want the recipe, can I have it?
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