Learning How to Celebrate Advent


For as long as I can remember, my family has been Catholic. My dad was raised Catholic, and my mom converted with her parents when she was in high school. However, it wasn’t until I started 1st grade in a Catholic school that they really recommitted themselves to the faith. As our family has grown and changed, so have our Advent traditions. It seems each year we celebrate Advent in just a slightly different way. Keeping traditions with seven kids running around, especially when those kids are young, can be difficult. This year, we’re all old enough to understand the significance of celebrating Advent, and we want to start some new traditions that will really make this season more meaningful.

In the past, we didn’t realize that the way we celebrate Advent can be distinctly different from the way we celebrate Christmas. We always had our Advent wreath, of course, but other than that, our traditions that were strictly for Advent were pretty minimal. We decorated the tree, put up decorations around the house, sang Christmas songs, made Christmas cookies, and went to Christmas parties. There wasn’t really anything that made Advent special, or differentiated it from Christmas.

A few years ago, we started to take vacations over Christmas instead of exchanging gifts. It was just our immediate family, so we still received presents from grandparents and aunts and uncles, but there was a clear shift in our mindset for the season, especially for the younger kids. We focused on spending time together as a family instead of what we would be getting and what we were spending. Last year we decided to forego our Christmas vacation, since we would be traveling in June for our wedding. We won’t be traveling this year, either; Sean is undergoing jaw surgery the week before Christmas, and it just didn’t seem like a good idea to travel while he was still in recovery.

So what does that leave us for this year? We want to celebrate the real meaning of the season, not just giving presents. We also want to incorporate more traditional ways to celebrate Advent. In all honesty, it’s like we’re learning how to celebrate Advent all over again. So we’ve set some ground rules for this season:

  •  Keep it Simple! The Advent season is about waiting. Waiting is about patience, and patience is pretty simple. We don’t need elaborate Nativity displays and huge feasts each Advent Sunday. Keeping things simple helps us keep things in perspective
  • Make it Meaningful! While we try to keep things simple, we also want to make them meaningful. For us, this means telling more stories and explaining the history behind some of the traditions we’ll be celebrating.
  • Save Christmas Stuff for Christmas Time! This is going to be a hard one, but I’ve been really inspired by the efforts of other bloggers on this topic (check out Haley’s articles on observing advent instead of fighting Santa, and how they celebrate Advent for more on this!). We’ve never done this before, but it seems so appropriate, and the perfect way to celebrate Advent as a distinctly different season than Christmas. For us, this means not putting up the Christmas tree until much later in December (we usually do it the first weekend or two after Thanksgiving), and not decorating it until right before Christmas. We’ll also be holding off on our usual Christmas parties, songs, decorations (stockings over the fireplace! elf on the shelf!) and cookies. The good news about this is that when Christmas actually does come around, we will be so excited to finally be celebrating all the things we love about it. And we really love Christmas in this house. Also, we’ll be celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, or Christmastide, for the first time. What could be better than celebrating Christmas for twelve days straight?

How does your family celebrate advent? Do you have tried and true traditions, or are you doing some new things this year? I’d love to hear about it! And here’s the best part: if you take part in our Little HolyDays link up (starting December 3rd!), we’ll all learn from each other!

Here’s a great little button you can add to your link up post:

Celebrate Advent

Just grab this code to add the button to your page or post:

<div align="center"> <form><textarea rows="4" cols="14"><center><a href="http://www.dualingmoms.com/2012/11/18/little-holydays-coming-soon/" target="_blank"><img alt="Little HolyDays Link-up" src="http://i1145.photobucket.com/albums/o515/Mollymakesdo/DSC_0740-1.jpg" /></a></center></textarea></form> </div>


Remember, when you link up on any one of our sites (Carrots for Michealmas, Dualing Moms, or Molly Makes Do), it’s automatically shared on all of our sites! We’ll be featuring our favorite posts from the previous link up each week, as well as posting them to our Little HolyDays Pinterest Board (are you following us on Pinterest yet?). I can’t wait to hear all about your Advent, Christmas, and other Holiday traditions next Monday!

Check out all the details for the Little HolyDays link up. And remember, you don’t need to be Catholic to take part. We’re excited to learn about all kinds of different traditions during this season!


  1. […] Advent even began, we wrote about how we were learning what it meant to celebrate Advent. We had our pretty Advent calendar, stocked with 24 wonderful ideas that would help us celebrate […]

  2. […] put up our tree last Sunday. I can’t believe we made it that long! But just like we hoped, abstaining from Christmas things during Advent made it that much more special when we opened the […]

  3. […] Lenten “Do-Something” challenge cards (making good use of the frame from our DIY Advent Calendar). These are just a variety of ideas – simple things that the kids can do – to help them […]

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