Advent has begun again. It’s easy and tempting to treat Advent as a pre-Christmas but it’s so much more.
Advent is waiting for the coming of Christ. It’s a time of remembrance and expectation. It’s exciting, all on it’s own.
I’d like to share a little of how we try to bring the richness of the season to our children. If you celebrate Advent with your family I’d love you to share that, too.
At the heart of any church season is our Lord and so the heart of our Advent is church attendance. Advent affords us extra services to listen to His word. Advent services in many parishes come with meals and fellowship- something my children eagerly look forward to. Advent has it’s own distinct hymns, many of them ones my children wait all year to sing. This includes hymns like “The Advent of our King”, “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry”, “Savior of the Nations Come”, and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”.
Our hymnody teaches us. Teaching our children the hymns of the season grows parents as it nurtures our children. It connects us to those dear saints who have gone before while pointing us to Christ and helping us look ahead. The hymns I mentioned above are included in a sweet resource, meant for little ones, produced by CPH called “My First Hymnal“. Our children all treasure their copies of this great little book and it’s a wonderful way to pick songs to teach for any church season.
Along with church attendance we have family devotion time. During Advent we have used a book called “Celebrate Jesus at Advent” by CPH. It’s no longer being produced but copies are available at amazon.com. I enjoy this book because the daily passages to read from the Bible are appropriate length wise for wiggly toddlers while still walking through the days prior to the Nativity. It also incorporates a hymn and an activity.
We have a children’s nativity set. It’s tempting to set it all up at once but we set up initially the crèche and daily add figures. You can also take Mary and Joseph and put them across the room and help them travel closer and closer to the crèche as Christmas approaches to help children picture the journey Mary and Joseph made prior to the birth of our Lord. Our shepherds arrive at the nativity after Christmas Day as part of the twelve days of Christmas and epiphany.
One of the most common Advent traditions is an advent calendar. Ours is a soft cloth reusable one but they are as diverse as Lego or Playmobil ones to homemade ones. It’s another way to mark sacred time.
In December there is another fun day- St Nicholas Day (December 6th – this Friday!). It’s traditional to place a shoe out the night before to be filled with chocolate coins. It’s also a great time to talk about Santa Claus, the origins of the story in regards to Christmas, and the historic St Nick. There are many, many good books on this and reading a variety of them is a fun way to talk about the history of the day.
I hope this helped give you a few ideas about incorporating Advent into the lives of your children and family traditions. For more information about the season of advent please check out our other articles here at BJS about Advent. You could also see this list of things from the LCMS. Worldview Everlasting also has a number of Advent postings.