"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Beauty of Advent II

During Advent, the Church blesses us with several special days that my family celebrates. These days include:
December 6 ~ Saint Nicholas
December 8 ~ The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
December 12 ~ The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13 ~ Saint Lucy

On the eve of December 6, the children set a shoe outside their bedroom door and in the morning they find a little something left by St. Nicholas. We spend December 6 making crafts, baking goodies, and reading stories in honor of Saint Nicholas. The craft ideas and recipes for baked goods come from St. Nicholas Center. The children enjoy coloring pictures of St. Nicholas and then brushing their pictures with vegetable oil. The vegetable oil gives the pictures a stained glass look which makes them perfect for hanging in the window of our front door. Another craft that they enjoy is making St. Nicholas figures to place along our mantle. One of our favorite recipes is Ciastka Miodowe (Polish Honey Cakes). However, we do not cut the honey cakes into round shapes. Instead we use various cookie cutters to make shapes that remind us of St. Nicholas. When we are finished with our baking, the children take some of our St. Nicholas baked goods to neighbors. Two books that we have enjoyed reading in the past are, The Miracle of Saint Nicholas and The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. This year, we might also try reading some of the recommendations made by Jenn Miller at O Night Divine. Finally, we end our day by watching CCC's Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa.

The observance or celebration of Mary's Immaculate Conception is a very special day for me, as it is the day that I made my First Communion. It is also the day that my parents made their First Communion many years before me. On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we enjoy reading Tomie de Paola's Mary: The Mother of Jesus. We make the crafts that are recommended in Seton's Art 1 for Young Catholics and CHC's A Year with God. We go to Mass and I finish the Immaculate Conception Novena found at EWTN.

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we celebrate Mary's appearance to St. Juan Diego (his feast day is on the ninth of December) and Patrick's Baptism Anniversary. We begin our day with Mass. Upon returning home, we read Tomie de Paola's The Lady of Guadalupe and watch CCC's Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe. Brendan usually dons his Juan Diego tilma that his dad and I made for him several years ago and the children act out the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego. Finally, we eat Mexican food for dinner, usually tacos.

We never really observed St. Lucia's feast day until last year. Last year, our Little Flowers group met on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to learn about St. Lucy and the corresponding virtue. Prior to the meeting I was racking my brain for a craft. My husband had nixed the first craft that I had planned on doing (a first for him). I went to Michaels, praying that I would find a craft. As I walked up to the store, I saw nine foot evergreen garlands on sale and I thanked the Holy Spirit for inspiring me.

After placing the necessary number of garlands in my cart, I went into the store and added 21 grapevine wreaths (the size that would fit on the head of an 18" doll) to the cart. Next, I located red ribbon and placed it in the cart. After purchasing the necessary supplies, I went home and called my co-leader. I told her that we would be making St. Lucia Wreaths for our Little Flowers' meeting. I explained how and asked if she had any wire cutters that I could borrow. I also mentioned that I was still trying to figure out what we should use for candles. She promptly responded, "White birthday candles." Two days later, the Little Flowers thoroughly enjoyed making St. Lucia wreaths. They began by wrapping the garland, which I had cut in half, around the grapevine wreath. Next, they tied the red ribbon to the wreath, making a loop so that the wreath could be placed and secured on a doll's head. They then tied two more bows on the wreath, using the red ribbon. Finally, they took five birthday candles each and secured them to the wreath, using the wire of the garland. As the girls placed the candles in their wreaths, I repeatedly reminded them that the candles were for decorative purposes only and not to be lit. The moms really liked the craft when they saw it.

Catherine's St. Lucia Wreath 12/12/05

Some of the Little Flowers used their wreath for their dolls. Others used them as an Advent decoration on the dashboard of their family's car. This year, our family will be making a larger wreath (one that will fit on a child's head). On December 13, Catherine will wear the wreath on her head as she brings us breakfast in bed.

I love how God inspires us with ideas that spill over into traditions that enrich our home life.

Related post: The Beauty of Advent


  1. Fabulous post, full of great ideas! Thank you!

  2. Anonymous9:16 PM

    This post was so inspiring and helpful. I'm planning a big St. Nicholas Unit/lapbook for Nov. 27-Dec. 6 and really enjoyed reading about your family's traditions. And vegetable oil! I always spend too much on that Modge Podge luster to make the kids coloring pages look like Icons. Well, no more of that! LOL!

    I absolutely love the St. Lucy wreaths. We will definitely been using that idea this year. She interceded for us greatly this year (restoration of sight to my fil) and I was hoping to find something special to honor her on her feast this year.

    God Bless.

  3. Anonymous5:58 AM

    Wow! Thank you soooo much for this post We have never celebrated the feast of St. Lucia, but after seeing this, I am inspired to go and get the supplies needed for the wreath. We have 4 daughters and I always wanted to do this. God bless you.


  4. Anonymous6:36 AM

    I love St. Lucy's Feastday! She is my patron saint and I was sooo inspired by American Girl Kirsten's traditions as a girl. Lovely ideas in this post!

  5. Anonymous6:56 AM

    Thanks for the great ideas. My library has several of the books for St. Nicholas Day. I am so excited!

  6. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Thank you for these wonderful ideas. I'm Polish so I am very excited about making the Honey Cakes!

  7. Anonymous7:48 PM

    Thanks for the inspiration and motivation. I'm usually behind on my St. Lucy prep and we often do construction paper wreaths. Today we made lovely ones out of greenery!
    Thank you!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope that you have a wonderful day! God bless you!

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