Welcome toTips & Tricks #4
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
Merry Christmas one and all! We celebrate the first coming of our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ, in this Christmas season. We call it “Christmastide” or the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Most all of us have heard of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, but pay it no mind as we dutifully take down our Christmas decorations the day after Christmas. (If we leave them up past New Year’s Day, we are considered lazy and disrespectful!) But the celebration of Advent an Christmas in the Anglican Church calendar is very different from what we are used to here in America. Here are some major differences:
Now that we have a daughter, the question of what to do about Santa comes up. As Christians, we know that Christmas is all about Christ! The true meaning of Christmas has almost nothing to do with what Santa Claus has become today (a highly commercialized fictional character who travels with flying reindeer, fits through chimneys, and rewards children for being good).
The original Santa Claus was based on Saint Nicholas, who was an actual person who lived in the third century in the village of Patara, (now Demre, Turkey). Nicholas was born into a very wealthy family and was raised a devout Christian. When Nicholas was still very young, his parents died. He decided to obey Jesus’ words from Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me,” and so he used his entire inheritance to help the sick, needy and suffering. He was later made the bishop of Myra and became known for his generosity.
This is the first year that we decided to make our very own advent wreath. First, let’s get some questions out of the way.
- What is advent? Advent is the period of time in the church liturgical season where we await the coming of Christ in the flesh (Christmas). The services are hopeful and solemn, not super bombastic or celebratory as Christmas.
- What is liturgy? What is Anglican liturgy? Liturgy is an orderly and structured form of church worship that consists of a combination of prayers, readings, songs, and sacraments. The Anglican liturgy is uniquely defined in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It specifically contains a 3-year schedule of prayers (where you sometimes stand and sometimes sit), readings from the Bible (at least one from the Old Testament, one of the Epistles, and one from the Gospels), and the sacrament (Communion). Each year is broken down into liturgical seasons where upon a different theme is focused. This sounds boring, you may be thinking. With centuries of knowledge and time dedicated to figuring out the best chorus of verses and prayers, the liturgy is quite exciting and helps focus the soul on what’s most important: Christ. Check out this article on “Why Millennials Long for Liturgy.”
- What is an advent wreath? An advent wreath is a wreath (like the branches twisted into a circle that people often hang on their doors) with five candles. There are three purple candles (representing Hope, Love and Peace), one pink candle (Joy), and one white candle in the center that represents Christ. The candles also represent each week of advent, so Week 1 is Hope, Week 2 is Love, Week 3 is Joy (Pink), Week 4 is Joy and Christmas Day is Christ (White). For more info on advent wreaths, click here.
- What’s the purpose of the advent wreath? It is a tool to help us think on each weekly theme as the advent of Christ draws near. Each element of the wreath has symbolic meaning. We must remember to repent from our sins and work toward a holy life to prepare for Christ.
- What happens when you light each candle? We choose to conduct a small home prayer ‘service’ that includes scripture readings, some singing, and prayers. Click on the document “Advent Wreath Prayers” for a PDF example of what we pray.