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Ahhh, Advent

My background is low, low church. Assemblies of God, ya'll. Due to this deficit I am highly respondent to high church liturgical practices. Anyway, my family (that is my wife and I and now our children) have only been celebrating Advent for about eight years now. Every year I learn a bit more about the beginning of the Church calendar. For instance, our Orthodox brothers and sisters view this time much like they do Lent--a time of fasting and preparing for the Feast of the Nativity. I'm going to try my hand at fasting once a week for these four weeks, though it'll only cost me three lunches since Advent ends on Monday the 24th. I'm also trying to work my way through a devotional based on comments from the Church Fathers.

We've experimented with our children in our celebration of the season before the twelve days of feasting, and we've tried to scale back the cultural encroachment of Christmas. We do this by slowly adding decorations in the house. We usually wait until the 2nd Saturday of Advent to kill our tree, but due to scheduling we're not cutting a tree until the third Saturday. I think I might like that more. Additionally, we celebrate St. Nicholas feast day eve by giving our children some small presents in there shoes, though have you ever tried fitting a DVD into a child's shoe? Anyway, we have family devotions in the evening with a great calendar and book put out by Liturgy Training Publications.

So what sort of Advent traditions do you practice?

Addendum: Thinking a bit more about Advent, I appreciate its Janus-like qualities (if I may mix in the image of a pagan god for my point.) It is forward looking to the Feast of the Nativity as we wait and look backward on the history of that event. And it is forward looking as we wait for the second Advent, while looking over our shoulder as we sin to make sure no one is looking. Awright, it's a strangled metaphor--but admit it, there is a backward and forward looking to the occasion.

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