I love this time of year! As I live in Sweden where many people get uncomfortable when one talks about religion, I don’t often mention it, but I am a practicing Christian (Latter Day Saint/Mormon to be exact), and Advent is filled with the hymns I love the best. Music speaks to my heart in a way nothing else does, it allows me to express the feelings I find it difficult to put words to, and the centuries old hymns reminds me not only of Christ and His role in my life, but also of my ancestors that might have sung them during cold December Sundays, wearing layers of clothes made from wool and sheepskin to keep the cold of the unheated, white limed little churches at bay. All the fairy lights, illuminated stars and candles that quite literally brings light to the dark of the Northern winter makes me happy. For me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.
In Sweden many, many people, believing Christians or not, have Advent candlesticks at home. Traditionally, the four candles are set in a line on a special candlestick, but nowadays many variations exist. After trying out one of these modern ways, I have returned to tradition, and I like it better. This year my candlestick is decorated with a brocade ribbon, a plain satin ribbon, both from my stash, and a couple of twigs of boxwood held in place with a hemp string. Earlier this evening I lit the first candle as the children were eating porridge.
Sometime around the first Sunday of Advent is the time when most Swedes start to put up their holiday decorations. Earlier this week I decorated two of the kitchen windows with greenery, fairy lights and red bows. The greenery is artificial wine vines that we got to decorate for our wedding reception, but with the lights (also from our wedding) and the red bows, it looks Christmas-y enough. When Eldest saw what I’d done he said “How pretty! I’m so proud of you, Mummy!” Children are often good for one’s self-confidence. Although the lights don't go all the way down, it's not as noticeable in real life as in a photo, and it does look rather cosy.
How do you prepare for Christmas? Any traditions from your country or family you’d like to share?