Beyond the glittering lights and festive decorations, the holy season of Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and homes to welcome the birth of Jesus Christ. In the midst of the hustle and bustle, there are numerous activities that families can engage in to make this season more meaningful and spiritually enriching.
Advent wreath lighting
A beautiful tradition during Advent is the lighting of the Advent wreath. Each Sunday leading up to Christmas, a new candle is lit, symbolizing hope, peace, joy, and love.
Our family gathers around the wreath in the evening, just after dinner. The kids each take turns lighting a candle, and my husband reads from Scripture. Afterward, we reflect on the significance of each passage, and how it corresponds to the meaning of each candle.
Create a Nativity scene
Another meaningful tradition is to create a Nativity scene in your home, gradually adding the figures of Mary, Joseph and the shepherds during Advent. Place the Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve to symbolize His birth. Discuss the significance of each character and how they fit into the story of salvation.
A tradition we partake in with extended family is having the children create their scripts and costumes for a Nativity performance. It’s a fun, yet very prayerful experience that helps kids grasp a better understanding of the Nativity story.
Acts of kindness
Encourage acts of kindness and charity throughout the Advent season. Consider having the kids donate some of their toys to a local shelter or collect food for the needy. Emphasize giving rather than receiving, reinforcing the message of selflessness that Jesus embodies.
Several years ago, we began a new Advent tradition. We created a “Gifts for Jesus” basket. Each time one of our children did something kind, offered a compliment, or lent a helping hand around the house without being asked, they wrote it down on a piece of paper and placed it in the basket as their ‘gift’ to Jesus. On Christmas morning, the basket is emptied and “given” to Jesus for His birthday.
Advent is a time to remember that the true essence of the season is found in the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior. By engaging in these meaningful traditions — or creating new ones — we can prepare our hearts and homes to welcome the greatest gift of all: God's love incarnate in the form of a humble child, born in a manger, to bring hope and salvation to the world.
By Andrea DePaola
Bookmark and visit NorwichDiocese.org/Advent for additional resources this Advent season.