Catholics observe special customs during
the season of Advent, which include lighting an Advent wreath and
making a Jesse tree. Learn more about these customs and the history
of the Advent wreath and Jesse tree.
do I make an Advent wreath?
The Advent wreath is one of our most popular Advent traditions.
Its origin is in pre-Christian Germany and Scandinavia where the
people gathered to celebrate the return of the sun after the winter
solstice. The circular wreath made of evergreens with four candles
interspersed represented the circle of the year and the life that
endures through the winter. As the days grew longer, people lit
candles to offer thanks to the "sun god" for the light.
For us, the lighting of the Advent candles represents the promise
of the coming of Jesus, the light of the world.
To make an Advent wreath, begin with a Styrofoam
circle, available at craft shops, and cut four evenly spaced holes
into which you will place the four candles. Traditionally there
are three purple candles and one rose candle (for the third Sunday),
but blue candles can also be used. Purple reminds us to turn our
hearts toward God; rose is a color of joy. Place fresh evergreen
branches over the Styrofoam. Replace them when they dry out in order
to preserve the symbolism of the vitality of God's love. Encourage
children to participate as they are able, by gathering branches,
placing the candles and so on.
do I make a Jesse tree?
This Advent activity is like a family tree, a
way to remember Jesus ancestors. The tree is named after a
man called Jesse, who lived a thousand years before Jesus. He was
Jesus many-greats-grandfather. This is what the prophet Isaiah
had to say about Jesse: A shoot shall come out from the stump
of Jesse,/and a branch shall grow out of his roots [Isaiah
11:1]. Later Isaiah tells us that the Holy One will come from Jesse
and his family. He will be a person of peace and justice. He will
be wise and understanding and strongstrong enough to defeat
all that is evil.
A Jesse tree includes ornaments that represent
Jesus' ancestors: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Noah, Jacob,
Joseph, Moses, Ruth, Jesse, David, Solomon, Isaiah and Micah, Jonah,
Joseph, Mary. Assign everyone a name and, after reading about the
person, try to decide on a symbol that could represent them. If
possible, try to make the ornament three-dimensional, and include
a string on it so that it can be hung. (Adapted from God
Is CallingLeader's Guide.)
The word posada means "shelter" or "lodging."
This Advent custom, popular throughout the Spanish-speaking world,
reenacts Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and
their search for lodging along the way. The ritual lasts for nine
days (December 16-24), representing the months of Mary’s pregnancy.
A group of people travel from house to house on their route, taking
the role of pilgrims seeking lodging. Those inside the homes are
innkeepers who refuse them. At the last home all are invited in
for prayer and refreshments.