I love this time of year! As I live in Sweden where many people get uncomfortable when one talks about religion, I don’t often mention it, but I am a practicing Christian (Latter Day Saint/Mormon to be exact), and Advent is filled with the hymns I love the best. Music speaks to my heart in a way nothing else does, it allows me to express the feelings I find it difficult to put words to, and the centuries old hymns reminds me not only of Christ and His role in my life, but also of my ancestors that might have sung them during cold December Sundays, wearing layers of clothes made from wool and sheepskin to keep the cold of the unheated, white limed little churches at bay. All the fairy lights, illuminated stars and candles that quite literally brings light to the dark of the Northern winter makes me happy. For me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
In Sweden many, many people, believing Christians or not, have Advent candlesticks at home. Traditionally, the four candles are set in a line on a special candlestick, but nowadays many variations exist. After trying out one of these modern ways, I have returned to tradition, and I like it better. This year my candlestick is decorated with a brocade ribbon, a plain satin ribbon, both from my stash, and a couple of twigs of boxwood held in place with a hemp string. Earlier this evening I lit the first candle as the children were eating porridge.
Sometime around the first Sunday of Advent is the time when most Swedes start to put up their holiday decorations. Earlier this week I decorated two of the kitchen windows with greenery, fairy lights and red bows. The greenery is artificial wine vines that we got to decorate for our wedding reception, but with the lights (also from our wedding) and the red bows, it looks Christmas-y enough. When Eldest saw what I’d done he said “How pretty! I’m so proud of you, Mummy!” Children are often good for one’s self-confidence. Although the lights don’t go all the way down, it’s not as noticeable in real life as in a photo, and it does look rather cosy.
How do you prepare for Christmas? Any traditions from your country or family you’d like to share?
12 thoughts on “First Sunday of Advent”
You have a great eye for design, and I enjoy seeing all the pretty things you come up with. Thank you for sharing your Advent decorations on the blog!
BTW, your tall, multi-paned windows are beautiful! Someday, I want to live in a house with windows like that. 🙂
Before the first Advent weekend I always put our electric 7-light candlesticks and electrified stars in the windows, like many other Swedes do. But there's also another tradition in our family, that I haven't seen in other homes – in the interior doorways, I hang a row of red hearts alternating with yellow stars, cut from smooth card and each suspended separately from a line of little pins on the top of the doorframe. They're about 10 to 15 cm tall, and each doorway has 2 hearts + 1 star, or 3 hearts + 2 stars depending on how wide it is. My grandmother saw this in an orphanage where she worked in the 1940s and was inspired to use it in decorating her own home for Christmas, and the next generation continued the tradition. I made my own set when I left home, it cost practically nothing and will last me for ever. They really spell Christmas to me; I always enjoy seeing them dangling in the doorway each time I move from room to room.
I have a family tradition that I keep on practising even if I'm not a believer. It cames from my grandmother, who was very good at creating what we call here “santons” (christmas nativity figures). The parents of my family are creating their own nativity figures, and adding a lot of other ones (shepherds, people of a village, etc). You must also create a figure representing each member of the family, and animals of the home (and re-creating them when children are growing). And those figures are supposed to come by themselves : from the 1st of december, children can find each day some figures in the house (at the door, in the mailbox, on the floor, on a shelve, on their way to the nativity scene). Of course, Mary and Joseph are coming at the end, and Jesus only on the 25th.
There are also particular figures. One of my uncle as made a little redhair boy, that comes the last, and brings one little gift for every children of the family. At my house, the last to come is an old grandfather with a stick, that must have difficulties to walk.
It brings a lot of mistery and fun in the house, I like that very much.
(I hope my story is clear, because I don't write in english very often !)
What a nice tradition, sounds very pretty! Those specific family traditions are the best 🙂
Oh, I love that, how neat! I'd like to try it sometime, the idea of a larger village and incorporating ones own family members is brilliant. A fun activity for the little ones too, trying to find the next figure 🙂
I made figures for our Nativity when I was a teenager, and though they are, to my more mature eyes, not exactly pretty, my parents still use them. The set I've got is a miniature one that I received as Advent calendar gifts one year as a child, so it's very dear to me.
Here in the US, we just put up our adventljusstake, and julstjarna yesterday. Lots of more Christmas lights to put up around the house, and the julbocken and julgris to unpack. And then the tree! We have a very Swedish/Scandinavian Christmas, and are lucky to have lots of decorations from family in Sweden, and from the few import stores left here.
Yay, someone who doesn't think a Swedish/Scandinavian Christmas equals reindeer,as I've seen some people claim on the web! It sounds very Nordic 🙂
My husband and I are only 2.5 years married, so we're figuring out the traditions we want to use together. The first year we were married we decorated our headboard with fairy lights but then liked them so much that we never took them down! I would very much like an advent candle wreath: preferably one I can hang over our dining table, but so far I've not found anything quite right.
We do celebrate St Lucia's day, although we are not Scandinavian. That said, my Dad has friends in Gothenburg and while I'm Anglican I'd consider Lucia my patron saint. We also put our tree up on St Lucia's day. My husband's family are dour Presbyterians and were it not for my FIL's love of the Dickensian Christmas look, I doubt they'd celebrate. So I get a bit of ribbing about my 'Popish' ways from him but try to take it with good humour.
Your house looks lovely and so cozy!
Thank you! Merging family traditions is a fun and interesting part of marriage 🙂 Hubby and I come from roughly the same part of the country and have the same religious background, so we had it pretty easy, but there were still a few things that had to be worked out. One fun little thing was that he'd received a Christmas village as a child, and I'd received Victorian miniature figures, including carolers. Our first Christmas together we discovered that his village and my figures were exactly the same scale, and look lovely together ^_^
Ooh that sounds gorgeous! Are you planning to take pictures of them? I'd love to see!
We only have two of the houses up this year, as that's how many would fit under the bell jar-thingy I wanted to display them in, but I'm hoping to do a sort of “Christmas Home Tour” post inn a couple of weeks or so, and it should be featured there 🙂
Absolutely lovely! (I'm no longer on Facebook so I'm glad you have this blog) I love seeing all your crafts.
Thank you 🙂