Advent is a season of the Christian church, the period of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus. It comprises the four Sundays before Christmas Day. In the Christian calendar, the first Sunday of Advent is the first Sunday of the Church year.

Purple is the color of anticipation and preparation, and typically families will have 4 purple (or red or white) candles (which may or may not be numbered) to light during this season. The candles are set in an advent candelabra (adventsstake) or on a decorative plate. The candelabra may sit on the coffee table, dining table or on a windowsill.

The candles are progressively lit each Sunday as a primitive calendar to mark the passing time to Christmas. That means on the first Sunday, the first candle will be lit. On the second Sunday, the first and second candle will be lit and so forth. In some families, preschools or other institutions, a verse or verses of a poem or an Advent Song (see below) may be recited or sung with each lighting. This is believed to trigger the Christmas spirit (julestemning).

During this season it is also common to highlight the house with purple, gold and silver things – cushions, linen, curtains, towels, serviettes and plates etc. As the season progresses the colours change to red and white for Christmas.

Upon the lighting of the candles each Sunday, some families might recite the Advent poem or sing the Advent songs.

Advent Calendars

Sometime in November, you must have started to see Advent Calendars being sold in the stores in Norway (grocery stores, children’s stores, etc) for children. An Advent calendar is a calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of the Birth of Baby Jesus.

Although Advent can begin as early as the last week of November or the first week of December, most commercially available calendars begin on December 1.

Advent calendars are generally small cardboard boxes with flaps to open daily from the 1st of December up to the 24th of December. The children can be rewarded with a picture, a poem or a Bible story and more often than not, a chocolate or a sweet. It is a great way to get everyone into the festive spirit and tide the little ones over til Christmas arrives!

Some families stick 24 cloves into an orange and count down to Christmas by removing a clove each day. This makes for a delicious citrusy Christmasy smell in your home!

It is also common to make your own Advent Calendars for children, partners, anyone really! This can be done by:

  • individually wrapping 24 presents, numbering them and giving one daily or hiding them around the house and sending your children on a treasure hunt to find the presents.
  • hanging 24 small stockings on a string/clothesline with the presents inside
  • hanging a quilt or homemade cloth with pockets to hold the gifts.
  • homemade box with 24 little drawers

Need more ideas? Look here!