Get ready for Christmas with Advent
Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall
In Norway and around much of the world, Advent is a time of joy and anticipation. It is the beginning of the Christmas season, and there is much to be happy about: the coming of the season of light, holiday parties, and the big celebrations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, in reference to the arrival of the Baby Jesus. It came into the Norwegian language about a thousand years ago, just as many holiday customs are very old. In modern times, we mark Advent at home and in church with beautiful Advent wreaths, counting the four Sundays in December before the big Christmas holiday.
In olden days, preparations for the season began very early. There was always much to be done on the farm: chopping wood, cleaning, washing, ironing, preparing Christmas food, and decorating the house. This needed to be finished before Lussinatten (Dec. 12), the night of the witch Lussi, who would come flying through the winter sky with fire and smoke. And if someone wasn’t ready, she would slide down the chimney and give them a big slap.
Today we don’t believe in troll hags who come flying in a fury, yet we still get ready for Christmas, with both old and new customs. Our anticipation of Christmas is perhaps just as great, since it is one of the most exciting times of the year for kids, parents, and grandparents.
Fun with calendars
A newer custom is the Advent calendar, the Julekalender, which came to Norway from Germany via Sweden in the 1930s. In the past, many were made with religious images, one door or window for each day, starting on Dec. 1 through Christmas Eve. Today there many varieties of Advent calendars, with images of anything associated with the yuletide season. Some come with pieces of candy for each day, and you can even find Advent calendars made of Legos. You can even make your own calendar: just take any calendar and draw or cut out and paste a picture every day as you progress through the month of December.
While we are no longer so concerned with the strict cleaning standards of the olden days, it’s not a bad idea to tidy up for Christmas before putting out your favorite Christmas decorations. You may have a box stored away with things you’ve saved over the years, and each year you can add something new to the collection. The Norwegian American is a great place to look for new Christmas craft ideas. Have an adult search with you on our website (www.norwegianamerican.com).
It’s important to not forget the true meaning of Christmas during the season of Advent: to spread joy. At a time when many of us think about all the presents coming our way on Christmas Eve, it is important to remember that some people feel lonely and sad at this time of the year. Do you know an old auntie or a school friend who would like to receive a Christmas card, a tin of cookies, or just get a big hug? You can make of list of people that you want to surprise with something special during the Advent season—maybe one for each day of Advent—and spread a little Christmas joy.
This article originally appeared in the November 30, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.