Advent calendars

We are into the second week of advent calendars; in our house there’s a posh chocolate one, a cheese one, and a leaping reindeer with twenty-four little sacks filled with goodies hanging from him.

My sister and I were always excited when December came; the decorations weren’t put up yet, but Christmas cards began to arrive and mum got out our advent calendars which we had from year to year. No gifts, only a little picture behind the sparkly doors. We had to open them very carefully so they didn’t tear and could be closed and put away for next year when the decorations came down. The little pictures were of things like a candy cane, a teddy, a wooden soldier, an angel, a Christmas tree, a bauble, a star etc until December 25th when we opened a bigger door to reveal a nativity with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus in his manger – there may have been a baby lamb as well.

I can’t remember what was on the front of the calendar except that it was sparkly. I think it may have been the three wise men, camels and star, or it may have been shepherds… or it may have been a winter scene with boys and girls in woolly jumpers,hats, scarves and mittens sledding, snowballing and building snowmen… I can’t remember. Maybe over  the years the calendars were replaced as their little cardboard doors fell off…

Advent is the period leading up to Christmas; it’s a religious period – except for the advent calendars which are mostly secular these days. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which is the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew’s Day, the 30th of November. This means Advent can start between  November 27th  and December 3rd. For people who go to church there are special services and prayers and the advent candles on an evergreen wreath are lit one by one. Some people who are not particularly religious also have advent wreaths and candles because they have become a seasonal thing.

When we were children, the Christmas tree was not put up and decorated until Christmas Eve and was taken down on twelfth night, ditto the decorations. These days for many people Christmas is just a winter festival with little religious significance and decorations and trees go up as early as people like, although often on December 1st. I wanted to keep to the traditional Christmas Eve decorating, but the children (actually now in their twenties) want it early… so the baubles and tinsel are out, the lights are twinkling on the front of the house, and our living Christmas tree is acclimatising in the dining room…

I haven’t made a cake this year… no-one likes fruit cake… oh well…      …times change!!


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