Advent, Christian Tradition, Children, Teaching, Meaning of Advent
Here's a way to make December and the Advent Season come alive for children. The season of Advent precedes Christmas so Advent's a season of waiting. Sometimes, waiting is difficult. Here's a way to ease the difficulty, teach the meaning of advent, and create a joyful Advent adventure.
- Celebrate Advent with children by creating an "Advent tree," typically a smaller, simpler version of the Christmas tree. Don't use lights; in Advent we wait in darkness for the light of Christmas. Ornament the Advent tree is ornamented only with one small package or envelope for each day of Advent for each child recipient. Hang each envelope from a branch. Let each package hold a present, simple yet still intriguing.
- Teaching goal 1. Advent is the time before Christmas, the birth of the Christ child. You'll have to wait for Christmas to open your bigger presents. Meantime, you'll get a small gift each day of Advent.
- Teaching goal 2, for 6th graders or older. Is Advent a Biblical word? No, it doesn't appear in the book of Matthew or the other Gospels. Instead, it came into use later. It's a word invented later in church history out of the Latin word ad-venture. Ad (to) + venire (come).
- November 30 was the first day of Advent in 2014. December 24 is the final day. Thus, in 2014 Advent consists of 24 days .
- To decorate the Advent tree, create 25 numbered envelopes for each participating child. Each day the child opens the envelope numbered for the day. For example, on Sunday, December 8, 2014, the child open the envelope number 8. Example in photo above.
- Result: children will eagerly rush to the tree each morning to find and open the envelope or package of the day. For example, on Friday, December 5, Annie (age 7) opened her envelope first thing in the morning (before school, before breakfast) and found a simple toy cake with two candles. "Mommy, thank you! I'm so excited. I've always wanted this!" She exuded joy and gratefulness.
- Older children may be more tempered in response but will participate and be grateful. For instance, Jack opened his envelope and found one part of a model toy that he's making. By the end of Advent he'll have all of the parts to complete the model.
Annie's gift Jack's gift
- Summary: the Advent Tree helps kids to understand the Advent season and to enjoy it. The Advent Tree is the Advent Calendar moved up a notch.
Happy Advent adventure!