I know, I know. Every other flippin' blog you read has already posted about advent, complete with lovely candlelit pictures. I'm just late jumping on the bandwagon.
We're not religious around these parts, so for many years I've felt that the Christmas season was missing that magical component that I craved. Let's face it, a sweet baby who's the hope of the world laying in a manger is magical; an empty holiday that just means presents is not. Last year we celebrated Solstice for the first time, and that just felt right to me. We're looking forward to a Solstice celebration again this year, so with that in mind we lit our first Solstice candle last Sunday. Instead of counting down to Christmas, we count down to that magical evening that celebrates the return of the light. One candle will be lit at dinner each Sunday, with the 5th candle being lit on Solstice itself:
Lighting this candle each Sunday helps us to be mindful of our blessings and the wonderful world around us. It also (I fervently hope) takes some of the emphasis off the Christmas giftfest for the kiddos. As so many Waldorf and Waldorfish families do, we use this poem by Rudolph Steiner as our guide:
The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Roots, stem, leaf, flower and fruit by whom we live and grow.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea.
All await the birth in greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind.
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand.
Though we don't use a wreath, I've changed our nature tray to reflect our countdown. Right now our basket rests on the colors of the sun and warmth, red and orange. We have some rocks from our property and shells we picked up long ago in Florida on display, and will add to it each week as we light our candle:
We don't "do" Santa for the littles, though we do enjoy telling the story. They just know that it's us who brings the gifts. ;) We also decided to add St. Nicholas day to our celebrations this year, which I'm really looking forward to.
So there you have it - our mishmash of holiday traditions. It's not for everyone, but I'm glad that we're finally finding something that works for us.