Sunday, December 18, 2011

Swedish Christmas Part 3 ~ Advent

One of my strongest memories from childhood Christmas celebrations is the advent calendar. Farmor (“father's mother”) spent an inordinate amount of time each year making this tradition really special for her grandkids.

Advent is from the Latin adventus which means “coming”. Scandinavians (if you're new around here, you need to know I'm Swedish, immigrated here when I was 9) have celebrated this tradition for centuries, and it's becoming more well-known in America as time goes by. Our church's denomination (Evangelical Free Church, where evangelical means our main goal is to let others know about the saving grace of Jesus, free means that though we're affiliated with our denomination, we answer to no higher authority. Well, besides God. He's a big authority ;-) has Swedish roots, so these churches have celebrated advent much longer than most folks in this country. Ok, history lesson over.

The advent calendar is only one facet of the advent celebration though, so if you want to hear more, remind me about the candle-lighting and the the fire that resulted. (Wood burns, by the way.) Back to today's programming: The advent calendar Farmor used was hand-embroidered. There were tiny Christmas pictures numbered 1-24 (tree, presents, santa – see this post  for more on Swedish santa) and 24 little brass rings, one for each day. (I would of course take a picture, but this is Swissie's year to use it so I can't.) Farmor shopped for or made tiny gifts, wrapped them, and attached them to the embroidered wall-hanging by those rings. Since we lived very close to Farmor and Farfar (by now, you should be able to translate those – but I'll give it to you one more time: father's mother, father's father) (Which just gave me a great idea!   In your comment, tell me what maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather would be, and I'll {not kidding} send you a Swedish prize) we just hiked into the forest at the end of our street, climbed the hill, and then back down on the other side, and we were at their house.

It was very exciting to get a small gift each day. Sometimes it was a candy, 
sometimes an ornament, and sometimes it was a tiny decoration, some that I still use today as in the above photo.  (I have NO idea why editing it counter clockwise, though successful in the iPhoto file, does not translate to the uploaded-to-blogger-file. I guess you'll have to turn your head)

Cherishing this countdown to His birth as a child, I wanted my boys to have the same wonderful experience as I had. This American piece,

 a gift from Aunt Risky, has the boys as excited about opening those doors each morning as I was. The gifts have varied over the years, but Saturday's surprise is always a bit more than the rest of the week. Lately, what they look forward to are the privilege cards. Skip a chore. Stay up an hour more. Go out to breakfast with a parent. Choose what's for dinner and who has to clean up. Jake cracks me up, because he has from time to time handed me one of those cherished cards in say June, but from two Christmases ago, and I've had to follow through. He's a saver. YellowBoy, on the other hand, “spends” most of his right away.

I appreciate you sticking around for these posts. Preparing for the celebration of Jesus' birthday takes many forms and family traditions. I'd love to hear yours.


Brian Miller said...

it is cool getting the little gifts each day...

mormor and morfar?

see what i will do for treats...smiles...

House Revivals said...

Love your stories, and am so grateful that you have generously shared your traditions through the years I've known you! You want to hear something funny? I've had friends unfamiliar with the denomination assume that E Free means the church is free of evangelism :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Now that's a special way to do the advent gifts. And no idea about the name for maternal grandparents!