Friday, November 19, 2010

Preparation: How to Make an Advent Wreath

I'm sure it doesn't shock you all to know that I'm a planner. Planning is as natural to me as breathing. Sometimes it's good for me to let things go and be spontaneous, but most of the time I prefer to have a plan, and if I'm *really* honest, I prefer to be the one making the plan.

I've been making some plans for Advent. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and is a focused season of expectant waiting. As believers in Jesus, we await Christ's second coming, while remembering his first coming--as an infant in a manger. I love celebrating Advent because it shifts the focus from the commercialization of Christmas and emphasizes the underlying reason we celebrate this holy day. It's being very intentional for the four weeks leading up to Christmas instead of just a few days before.

One thing that helps us stay focused during the season is an Advent wreath. We always had one growing up, and my mom gave me one after I was married but I'm pretty sure that John used it at one of the churches he pastored and somehow it never made it back home. I didn't realize that until I decided I wanted to begin the tradition with my own family and couldn't find it!

I found some different ones for sale, but didn't love any of them so I decided to make my own. And you can too!!! Advent begins this year on Sunday, November 28, so you still have time to do this if you're interested.

Here's what you need:
4 candlesticks/holders or an Advent wreath frame (something like this)
4 candles (I'll talk about colors in a minute)
1 candle for the middle of your wreath
some kind of greenery

Here are some pics of mine:
 I use these heart-shaped candleholders that I bought at Goodwill one year for .25 each. The greenery covers them up (thankfully!)
I bought 4 taper-type candles last week at Walmart (cheap!) and I'm using a jar candle that I already had for the center of my wreath.

Traditional Advent candle colors are purple (3) and pink (1) and the center candle, which you light on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day is white. Last year I noticed that our church used blue candles, which is the modern church tradition. Purple is used throughout the season of Advent because it represents royalty and the coming of the King. Pink represents joy. It isn't always easy to find those colors this time of year so I just use what I have or can find. I think last year I used red and green. I'm such a rebel.

My greenery is a circular form that I bought one year at Michael's for about $3. Evergreen leaves symbolize everlasting life, and the nuts/seeds/cones/berries are symbols of resurrection. I love that. 
I keep our wreath in the center of our table so we can see it throughout the day and I like to put it on this round, woven placemat that I have.
I dearly love our wreath and think it's beautiful, but you know, they can be as fancy or as plain as you want them to be. I'll share some pics at the end of this post of some others I found online.

Below is a picture of our wreath from last year. On Sundays during Advent, we light a new candle and work our way around the wreath gradually (the third Sunday in Advent is when you light the odd colored candle if you have one). The gradual lighting represents the gradual coming of Light into the darkness of this world.

As we light each new candle, we read a scripture or say a prayer or sing a song--Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus and O Come, O Come Emmanuel are two of our Advent favorites. We turn out all the lights in the kitchen and let the candles illuminate our dinner table while we eat. It is a very calming and centering ritual. I love it.

We only light new candles on Sunday, but throughout the week we continue to light the same candle(s). The center candle, or the Christmas candle, is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but since we're rebels we light it in addition to the weekly candle(s) as well. It just looks so pretty! And smells sooooo good. 
Here is a fantastic link I found that explains better than I could how to use an Advent wreath. It even has suggested reading for each week. 

Here is a link to a post I wrote about Advent last year and it has links to lots of other resources, and here is a link to a fun and easy Advent calendar you can make. 

Honestly, I just love this season and I want everyone to love it and celebrate it too! Being intentional requires some preparation...and I hope in some small way this post will be a starting point for you if you've ever been curious about Advent or if you'd like to try to make an Advent wreath for the first time.

Oh and here are the pics of some others I found online. Let your creativity spur you on!

(Love this one in the wooden bowl!)



6 comments:

Katrina said...

love this post...I so would love to do this however we are going to be gone for one of the Sundays and not here for Christmas...I'm not sure if I should try to start it and then not be here. I'll have to talk to my hubby and see what he thinks. I really LOVE the bowl one, that is my favorite!

*carrie* said...

Mer,

I'm sure you've seen it, but here's a pic of the one I made last year (inspired by you!): http://watibg.blogspot.com/2009/12/advent-wreath.html

I like the idea of dining by candlelight during Advent . . .

Nancy said...

thanks for the inspiration. i'm going to go through my candle collection and see if i can't pull this off.

DidiLyn said...

You're making me think I might be able to do this. I didn't grow up with this tradition, but we have some extra family staying with us for a bit and this looks like a super idea. Simple and do-able.
Thanks.

His Girl said...

I'm often saddened by our family's lack of traditions at Christmastime- neither of us grew up in a believing home, so the few traditions that do exist are santa claus related.
Knowing you as brought such great inspiration to do better for our kids.

I think this wreath idea is fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the information. This year I'm going to try and make an Advent wreath. I'll have to be very creative as money is in short supply.