No matter what, Germany will always be a part of our family’s history. What was supposed to be only a short stint (or a very long holiday, depending on how you look at it) will most likely turn into a four year residency. All three boys will have lived in Germany longer than in the US by the time we move home. It makes sense, then, to adopt some German Christmas traditions and make them our own.
Last year, we dove head first into the advent calendar craze. I came up with activities to keep the Christmas season fun and memorable. On the days I just didn’t have time to bake cookies or cut out paper snowflakes, the kids got a little piece of chocolate while we talked about the meaning of Christmas. That’s totally an advent calendar tradition. Just ask Milka.
This year, in addition to the advent calendar, we’ve added the advent wreath (Adventskranz). The basic idea is to light the candles as they correspond to the Sundays in the advent season. On the first Sunday, you light the first candle. On the second Sunday, you light the first candle and the second candle. On the third Sunday, well, you get the point.
I’d never seen nor heard of an advent wreath before living here. Now, I’ve seen all kinds of variations. Some have candles of increasing heights, the tallest being for the first Sunday of advent and the shortest for the fourth Sunday. This obviously makes for a nice even candle burning experience at the end of advent.
I’ve even noticed that some advent wreaths are not wreaths at all. Rather, they are a line of four candles with a variety of designs to modernize the traditional circular, pine tree style. And still others just have four random candles that they line up. I guess if there are four wicks ready to burn, it constitutes an advent wreath.
I have to say I’m kind of surprised how well my two boys did around an open flame. We lit the first candle this past Sunday and left the wreath on the dining table. Not once in the few hours it was burning did they even attempt to touch it. Perhaps all the exposure they get to dangerous items in kindergarten is paying off in some weird way.
Well, wreath or not, calendar or not, happy advent to you and yours! For more about the advent wreath tradition, check with our good friend Wikipedia.