Advent begins Dec. 3 this year. The first two Sundays of Advent look forward toward Christ’s second coming, and the last two Sundays look backward to remember Christ’s first coming. It can be easy to miss out on this liturgical season because of the hectic nature of the holidays. Here are five ways to observe these important weeks before Christmas.
Make a Jesse tree
Create your own Jesse tree in the same way that you set up a Christmas tree. Each day, the Jesse tree can help to remind you of the importance of the Advent season. You can get creative with how you design your Jesse tree and what sort of ornaments you want to adorn it with. Try making your own ornaments with your children for the tree.
Make an Advent wreath
An Advent wreath is decorated with four candles, or five if you wish to include a white one in the center. Each Sunday of Advent you light another candle (purple for the first two Sundays, pink on the third Sunday, and purple for the last Sunday). If you have the fifth white candle, that one is lit on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
Keep an Advent calendar on display in your home so that you can keep track of the season. Make an extra effort to attend Mass on each Sunday so that you can fully appreciate the meaning of the season and how it teaches about Christ’s first coming and looks ahead to his second coming.
Celebrate the feast days that fall in the season of Advent
Take extra care this Advent to be mindful of the feast days that occur during the season. Feast days that don’t fall on Sundays this year during Advent are:
- St. John Damascene on Dec. 4,
- St. Nicholas on Dec. 6,
- St. Ambrose on Dec. 7,
- The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a holy day of obligation) on Dec. 8,
- St. Juan Diego on Dec. 9,
- St. Damasus I on Dec. 11;
- Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12,
- St. Lucy on Dec. 13,
- St. John of the Cross on Dec. 14,
- St. Peter Canisius on Dec 21, and
- St. John Kanty on Dec. 23.
Make a prayer chain
Create a prayer chain that is 24 links in length and put the name of a person or cause on each link. For each day of Advent, pull off one of the links and pray for whatever is written on it. You can even use the Christmas cards you receive from family and friends for links in the chain.