Hi, friends! Today I am excited to share with you another one of our family traditions that was started during my childhood by my mother. She didn’t actually dream this one up, like most of the other traditions I have shared, but she did it with us when we were little, and I love being able to carry it on with my own children. It is the Christmas Advent Wreath, and it helps us focus on the real reason for the Christmas season: the birth of our Savior! Today I am going to tell you a little bit about how our family uses the advent wreath and show you how I made ours.
We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this is not a “Mormon” tradition. My mother was actually raised in a Presbyterian home, and this is something that her family did while she was growing up. I don’t actually personally know any other families who do this tradition, but after doing some research I realized that it is quite common in other Christian denominations and other parts of the world! Pretty cool.
Here is what I learned: My mother comes from German ancestry, and the tradition of the advent wreath apparently originated in Germany. According to Wikipedia, the concept appeared in the 16th century, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that a Protestant Pastor designed the first advent “wreath” out of a wagon wheel when the children at his school kept asking him when Christmas was going to arrive. The large white candles were lit on the four Sundays prior to Christmas, and the red candles were lit each day, one a day until the wreath was glowing in full and Christmas had arrived! Here is a drawing of the first advent wreath (photo credit Wikipedia).
After that time German Catholics also adopted the practice, and the advent wreath changed in appearance. Doing a bit of Google-ing for this post I found THIS post which explains the traditional candle colors and meanings of each candle. We have always just used whatever candles looked pretty with the wreath and have a much simpler routine.
My mother’s peach and blue advent wreath was falling apart to the point that I finally threw it out last year and made a new one this week. I am excited to do this tradition with my own children! I love keeping her traditions alive!
Here is how we use our advent wreath: Each Sunday in December we light the candles. One candle the first Sunday, two candles the second Sunday, and so on and so forth, until Christmas Day when we light all five candles. On the Sundays leading to Christmas we light the candles in a dark room and sing a few Christmas songs and have a short thought/devotional and a prayer together as a family. On Christmas Day we sing songs, read the Biblical account of Christ’s birth, and have a prayer together as a family. Simple but meaningful.
What do you think? Is this something that you would like to do with your family? If so, let me show you how to make one of your own.
I started with a 12 inch styrofoam round and wreath form (from JoAnn Fabrics), red stretchy fabric, a sheet of black felt, and a hot glue gun (both of which I already had), and candles and two 12 inch holly wreaths from Ikea.
I began by covering my styrofoam shapes with the stretchy red fabric. (Instructional pictures below.) Cut roughly the right shape of fabric and then just pull and stretch it flat as you glue it on the bottom with your hot glue gun. (Be careful not to burn yourself!) It doesn’t matter what it looks like on the bottom, because you can cut a large circle of felt and glue that over the top when you are finished.
For the wreath form I cut wide strips of fabric (ribbon would be even simpler) and wrapped them around the wreath form, securing them with hot glue.
Next I used a generous amount of hot glue to attach the two pieces together. Unfortunately, you can still see it a bit, but it works and looks pretty still in our dining room.
I took the wreath form and used a generous amount of hot glue to attach it straight to the wreath form, as shown below.
One wreath looked a tad sparse, as I suspected it would, so I used hot glue (once again, generously and carefully) to attach the second wreath on top of the first one. I then glued individual leaves over sparse spots where I could see wires, lots of hot glue, etc. I also tugged the “holly berries” toward the top.
The final step was to place the large candle in the center of the wreath and shove the thin candles into the styrofoam wreath form.
I am very pleased with its cheerful final appearance.
I hope that this tradition helps you get an idea for a simple and meaningful way to have a Christ-filled Christmas, and that your children enjoy it as much as mine do!
If you enjoyed this post then you may enjoy these other posts about more of our meaningful holiday traditions (also started by my mom), as well as my Multigenerational Holiday Home Tour!