Advent is meant to be a time when we prayerfully prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ. I want to share a few Advent traditions that I grew up with in case some of them can be helpful for your
One great tradition that was consistent through the years for us was the nativity scene. Every year we set up a nativity scene in one of the rooms of our house. Every night we would go to the nativity
scene as a family and kneel in front to pray a very simple prayer that our parents composed: “Thank you God for sending us your son Jesus whose birthday we celebrate on Christmas. Amen.”
That prayer taught me more about Advent than any theology book. Another tradition that we had was to do an Advent calendar. When we were young, we did chocolate calendars, but when we were a little older we started doing an advent calendar that told the story leading up to Jesus’ birth. This was a great way to see Advent as a time of preparation.
A third tradition that we had was to leave Baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas morning. This always built up anticipation for us. When we found Baby Jesus there on Christmas morning, we were thrilled! Who would have thought that such a simple thing could make such a difference? A few of the years we also would put a piece of straw in the manger for every good deed we could remember during Advent. Those good deeds then served as the bed for Jesus when he
A fourth tradition was to give to the poor during Advent. As kids, we would go through our toys, clothes, and “piggy banks” to provide for the needs of others. These were just a few of the wonderful traditions we had growing up. Some families light the Advent wreath in the evening, make a Jesse Tree, or place angels around the house. I encourage each of you in your Advent traditions. If you do not have any such traditions, maybe now is the time to start. Through these traditions, families prepare to receive the greatest gift of all.
Written by: Fr. Patrick Burns