Advent is already here!

by Elsa Marshall


Advent is already here! I have dusted off my Advent wreath, bought new candles and I am preparing to begin the celebration of this season. 

Some members of your church family might be new to this celebration or just aren’t sure what to do and how to celebrate Advent, especially if celebrating with children for the first time. It is appropriate for the church to help families make this a fun and instructive time without entering into the shopper flurry which is the secular celebration. 

Here are a few simple alternative ideas for your families to use:  

During the early part of Advent, each child in the family receives an empty manger, perhaps made from the clementine crates at the grocery story, or created from a toilet paper or paper towel roll with Lego legs or an oatmeal box covered with bright paper will do. At bedtime each night, the children draw a piece of straw (available in small amounts at a craft store or some from your local nursery or aggie store) for each kind deed performed in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday surprise and present to and for him. The straw is placed in the child’s manger or box daily. It is amazing how much love a child can put into their waiting manger when they are preparing for Emmanuel’s coming during Advent. On Christmas, each child finds an infant in his manger, placed on a small table or a chair beside his or her bed. Usually it is a tiny doll, wrapped in swaddling clothes.  This custom fills the child with a yearning in Advent, and provides an image of the Christ child as the first happy glance in the morning and the last impression at night during the entire Christmas season which ends on Jan 5th as Epiphany begins on Jan 6th with the arrival of the magi.

Explore Christmas traditions from around the world with your kids and discuss the possibility of adapting some of these as part of your own celebration during the Advent and Christmas season.  Christmas Around the World  ( has a wonderful description of traditions from a variety of countries that you might like to discuss.   
The Worldwide Gourmet ( has a wonderful array of recipes associated with the Advent and Christmas season in many different parts of the world.  Just reading through some of these wonderful recipes makes me hungry.
CAFOD: Just One World ( has a downloadable Advent calendar for children and some great Advent liturgies available as well as.
Countdown Christmas Traditions ( has a fun kid friendly Advent calendar.  As you click on each day of Advent you read about traditions in different countries of the world.
The days leading up to Christmas are filled with distractions. We all need help to cut through the many distractions of the Advent and Christmas
seasons if we want to focus any attention on the theological reason for the season.  Since the fourth century, the Church has celebrated the season of Advent (which means “coming” or “arrival”) to help focus our attentions on Jesus. 
As we wait upon the coming of Emmanuel may the radiance of this season shine upon you and color your Advent and Christmas with peace, joy, hope and love. 

Elsa Marshall

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