Today (3 December) marks the first Sunday in Advent, according to the Christian calendar.
And, apparently, it is not about chocolate advent calendars and frenetic Christmas shopping.
Although I dip in and out of attending our local Church of England church (mostly dipping out) I thought I knew a little about the seasons and festivals throughout the year.
However I have to say I was pretty ignorant about what advent actually meant.
According to tradition, Advent is the time for preparing and awaiting and, in the past, was also treated as a period of abstinence and fasting (similar to Lent) – a far cry from today!
In our church the building will be simply decorated with greenery instead of flowers- although there will be a tree.
Strict observers of Advent don’t take part in traditional Christmas activities – which includes Christmas parties, putting up decorations or listening to Christmas music – until Christmas Eve. But, for them, the seasonal celebration continues until 6 January, with plenty of time to puruse these ‘Christmas Bucket List’ activities during this period.
I’m not sure I could adhere to this as I am a sucker for the Christmas feeling you get when wrapping presents while listening to Christmas music, or putting up the tree.
So I could never observe Advent this strictly. But, saying that, there are things I like about it. And I don’t believe you have to be a church goer – or Christian – to appreciate the idea of quietness during this time of year. I like the fact that Advent is not about:
- doing everything on that Christmas Bucket List, which you pinned to your Pinterest board.
- running around to every Christmas lights switch on and Christmas-themed event at your local stately home or country park.
- spending a small fortune on the above events.
- not having a moment to yourself because you’ve scheduled every day to the minute and forgotten to give you and the family some time off from Christmas.
- following stupid – and expensive – ‘traditions’ which, it turns out, were only invented a few years ago (‘Elf on the Shelf’ and ‘Christmas Eve pyjamas’ being two of my bug bears)
I like the idea of being lazy during the run up for Christmas and saying ‘no’ to things as well. I like the idea of having some headspace and being quiet and still admist the busyness and over-consumption of this season.
Last year I ran a series on my facebook page here. called A Simple Christmas. I wanted to create a little ‘time out’ where I posted a link to an inspirational website, thoughtful blog post, or my own ramblings, to share another view of the festive season. Posts included the thoughts of minimalist bloggers and writers, websites on mindfulness and, in the final week before Christmas I shared the posts of a couple of family bloggers whose catholic faith inspired how they viewed the season.
If you are on Pinterest you can also take a look at my A Simple Christmas board here.
However you decide to spend Advent I hope you find some time to yourself and get to enjoy the quiet….