And here we are on the eve of so-called “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving, and apparently £8 billion pounds is expected to be spent over the next four days…
Here I confess to feeling just a little bit hypocritical as this is yet another commercial site…but I hope that these flowers will bring joy for many years to come too, rather than, as I often have done, be a throw away, disposable purchase. That they are a symbol of the season.
The Christmas jingles of the television and radio adverts are a far cry from the haunting notes of “O come, O come Emanuel”, that echo throughout churches on the first Sunday of Advent, which this year falls on December 3rd.
The gulf between secular commercialism and religious restraint is somehow echoed in the contrast; not that the two are wholly incompatible at all, but it is so easy to get lost in the muddle, and fuss, and expense, and worry, and fretting over the Christmas season.
Making an Advent Wreath, traditionally a Lutheran practice, is one way to step back and contemplate the real meaning of the Festival. Its roots are not only in the Nativity, but in other important festivals where we celebrate the return of the light – the Feast of Santa Lucia on 13th December, the Winter Solstice when the sun is at its lowest in the Northern Hemisphere between 20th and 22nd December.
Lighting the candles at supper is one way to slow down this season of “waiting” to reflect on the myriad meanings of this time of year when the natural world achieves dormancy before the first new flowers of Spring.
Many of our ancient carols such as “Here we go a wassailing”, “I wonder as I wander” and “The Holly and the Ivy” have their origins deep in the pagan festivals of the hunt and the oak king and the green man. Hence the decking of the halls with holly and ivy, bringing the outdoors inside.
Around this time of year the most beautiful flower of the winter may appear, if we are lucky: the Christmas Rose, a pure white Hellebore. It never fails to star in the cruellest three months of the year and so I love to include it in my Advent Wreath.
The candle colours vary with different traditions, some red, some blue, but many use the traditional purple for the first, second and fourth Sundays: representing Hope and Peace and Love, and pink for the rose Sunday, symbolising Joy. The 3rd Sunday is not dissimilar to Mothering Sunday in Lent when people had a break from their Advent fast leading up the great day.
Here I have used the liturgical purple with the central white candle and real foliage in a wet oasis block. If this is kept damp and reasonably cold it should last throughout the Advent Season.
The central candle – White for the Christ Child, the Light of the World – is lit on Christmas Eve or morning.
Traditionally made from evergreens, here I have used ivy and green oak (Ilex). I have used faux hellebores as the real ones do not last more than a day indoors.
Whatever way it is made, here is a pretty reminder of the real meaning of this expectant season, laced with hope and peace and joy and love leading up to the magic of Christmas Morning.
“Christmas is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” Hamilton Wright Mabie.
And the Christmas journey starts right now….