The first purple candle is lit.
The first book for advent evening reading.
The first Jesse tree ornament - the Jesse Tree itself.
( pardon my lack of craftsmanship in this particular ornament )
It has always played a big part of my life; this season, advent.
The traditions of the religious part of the season, ( however there should be only religious part anyway ), were different than I have encountered and welcomed to our family here.
The advent that I grew up with, was a season of quieting inside and out. There were no parties to be held, no Christmas carols, no Christmas tree or any other holiday decorations; until the Christmas Eve.
The advent days were started with a early morning Mass, called "Roraty". It was dark, cold, rather freezing, slippery and often snowy. I should not even mention that I walked to the church!
There was no time for breakfast before the Mass, only after, right before school. I was tired at the end of the day...
But I would never have it any other way. It is because of those small offerings and sacrifices that the season was special and then the Christmas was more joyous and the memories of those times are so rich.
Here the advent is loud, shiny, bright, and red. The Christmas carols sound long before Thanksgiving, the decorations are on even before Halloween! The parties are held everywhere and everybody is in crazy pace of shopping. But we try.
I and my family, start with advent wreath. We have also welcomed the beautiful custom of Jesse tree, instead of Christmas tree in the beginning. We read the passages form the Bible, and for everyday we read a different Christmas story. Usually with a deeper meaning.
As the season draws closer to Christmas we celebrate St. Nicholas day, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Lucia day.
There is also secular side to this season. Kids delight themselves in chocolate version of advent calendar. We bake cookies, which disappear quite quickly, watch Christmas movies, we admire neighborhood Christmas lights and start decorating the house and Christmas tree around Gaudete Sunday.
I try to make it memorable for my children as it was for me, even though different. Mostly I want the kids to remember the religious aspect of the seasons of advent and Christmas.
I do know that if we continue those traditions, they will cherish the memories of them as I do mine:)