Photo: Anne Nygard on Unsplash

Photo: Anne Nygard on Unsplash

Traditions and Customs of Advent

By Elizabeth Stephens Holy Trinity Catholic Church

It’s December the season of Advent the beginning of a new Liturgical year in the church amidst the 2nd wave of COVID where the weather is getting colder and the pandemic seems to be getting worse with new cases each day.

Advent has many meanings from “arrival, waiting, anticipation, preparing, reflection, and longing.”

Traditionally Advent is celebrated with the Advent Wreath.

An evergreen circle of greenery, representing the eternal love of God along with, three purple and one rose or pink candle which are lit one a week for four weeks and the themes Love, Peace, Joy and Hope.

In stores you see Advent Calendars of different types.

Some with 24 pieces of chocolate in each window others with images.

A unique tradition is the Jesse Tree, which traces God’s Path dating back as far as the middle ages. There are 25 symbolic symbols of Christianity which are hung on a simple tree each day of the week.

Some of these are; an apple – the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a rainbow – Noah’s Ark and the great flood, a Ladder – Jacob’s Dream, a coat of many colors – Joseph and God’s providence, two stone tablets – 10 commandments – God’s laws, a large whale – Jonah and the Whale to a manger representing the birth of Jesus.

The colour purple symbolizes the hearts of the gathered community in renewing their sense of desire to see and know Christ when he comes again.

It also symbolizes Royalty of a king as well as sorrow, sadness and repentance.

This is a time for a change of heart to ask for forgiveness and show mercy. Don’t wait to welcome him in, make room for him now, look at how we are living our lives, examine what needs changing, seek forgiveness for our sins, reach out to those in need and be mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves.

Do we have room in our “inn” for the people who really care in our lives, do we check on our neighbours, family and friends during this fast paced time of hustle and bustle, and isolation, fear and loneliness of this pandemic.

Take the time to talk and listen to those around you and especially to God as he will bring clarity in these stressful challenging times.

God wants us all to be happy with joyful hearts and to remove any obstacles that keep us from his love. One way in acting in God’s Love is donating to the Gifts of Hope and or the Snowflakes.

These gifts are for the marginalized, those in poverty, on the fringe of society, or even our neighbour whose housebound or alone, so they can also celebrate the wonder of Christmas from the generosity of a giving heart.

We wait in blessed hope that Jesus will `come illuminating our darkness forever and that the joy of his birth will bring God’s kingdom of justice, love and peace in all its fullness.

We light the wreath candles in anticipation of his coming.

We decorate and light our trees and homes to dispel the darkness outside. It’s difficult to make time in the darkness, cold and silence of winter in nature to remember all humanity’s built-in longing for the light of the world.

One candle burning bright chasing away the darkness from light.

Take your candle and be the Light of the World.

Keep the Light of Christ as the true center and meaning of Christmas.

“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation” Psalm 27.

Elizabeth Stephens

Holy Trinity Catholic Church