We held our Advent celebration today. I like to celebrate Advent because it feels like the simplest, most child-like way to ease ourselves into the festive season. I tell my Advent story in a non-traditional way, celebrating the four kingdoms of the mineral realm, the plant realm, the animal realm and the human realm – forming a nature mandala with beautiful objects while I tell the story. Our story time is followed with a few simple crafts to take home and remember the simplicity and gratitude of the occasion.
The Impulse of Advent
Advent is traditionally a celebration of the journey leading up to the birth of Christ, the Nativity. It is observed with a simple celebration on each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas. This year, the first Sunday of Advent is November 30. Traditional ways of observing advent include:
- Creating a wreath from evergreen foliage and decorating with red berries or red ribbons.
- Lighting a candle each Sunday, until four candles are light on the fourth Sunday
- The use of an advent calendar to track the progress towards the fourth Sunday (these days Advent calendars are used to keep track of the 24 days prior to Christmas, often with a gift each day).
For me, Advent is an opportunity to observe the journey with quiet reflection and gratitude. It is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with family, community and nature in simplicity. It is also provides a peaceful balance to the consumer fever that often surrounds the summer period between Halloween and Christmas Day.
Why celebrate the birth of Christ?
My approach to Advent is not from a traditional Christian perspective, however I do still celebrate the Nativity as a sacred and special event. I am inspired by the work of Collette Leenman but am also interested in Advent as the unfolding story of the miracle of birth and the creation of family.
It is a celebration and an honouring of all that is human within us, and an opportunity to deeply connect to our relationship with our natural world. As humans we are one of many forms of life on Earth, a species blessed with many gifts.
This celebration of Advent honours our interconnectedness with all other life and elemental forces on this planet. We are a part of a whole: a special part of a whole system of life because we can have the ability to make choices that have a dramatic impact upon our world. This is our unique gift as humans.
And so the impulse behind the Numala Advent Festival this year stems from our need to consciously reconnect to our natural environment, to honour our place within it as part of a whole. To spend time each Sunday, slowly and reflectively, making meaningful relationships with the four kingdoms of the mineral realm, the plant realm, the animal realm and our fellow individuals within the human realm.
On an adult level, this is a conscious and reflective journey of meaningful reconnection – asking ourselves on what level DO we interact with, and impact upon each of these kingdoms? On a child level, this is a time to take the focus away from the material and refocus on celebrations of individuality, of family and of nature.
There is a place for the material aspect of the festive season too! It is part of what makes this time so fun and full of memories for children – however it can easily be balanced by more gentle, simple and connecting celebrations: stories, family activities, time in nature and little forms of playful connection. Advent is a wonderful opportunity to come together to celebrate the beauty and the wonder of the world in which we live, and of our unique selves, each of us absolute miracles of life.
This year at our Numala Advent Festival I have chosen a few symbols to represent our special relationships with the natural world:
THE ROSE – we made a simple fabric rose with a tiny fleece baby tucked inside, representing the blossoming of our own potential, the flowering of our best intentions, and the softness and beauty by which we can relate to our natural world.
THE BELL – we made some colourful hanging decorations with felt balls and tinkling bells to celebrate and remember the true meaning and message of the season, however it reveals itself to you. Each time you ring the bell, may you call forward your message of truth. Each time you see the colourful felt balls may you celebrate the many ways that truth may reveal itself to you.
THE STAR – simple wrapped stick stars to celebrate our spirituality – we are born into this world whole and in perfection – and as Wordsworth says, “trailing clouds of glory”. May we shine in the light of the beautiful individuality of our own spirits and our woven connections to the world of wonder.
For more information about advent, family celebrations and stories, you can search for ‘advent’ on my blog www.lavendilly.wordpress.com