Monday, July 28, 2008

Celtic Cross and the Advent Wreath


The advent wreath thought to have originated in Germany and Scandinavia has have deep roots into the early days of Christianity. Often made of evergreen and using candles to add light to the long winters the advent wreath has become a staple in Christian homes.

Often the advent wreath is cut from pewter, brass, or other base metals and has words and design cut into them that more customizes the wreath to the homeowner or the parish. One of the most popular designs is the Celtic Cross Advent Wreath. There has been a surge in popularity of Celtic themed items where as it allows the heritage of the Irish people to come forth in their homes.

The Celtic Cross has the makings of a cross with a circle in the outline of the background of the cross. The cross has come into the fold of Christianity despite its roots that reach back to 5000 BC and believe to be a solar cross and dedicated to the God of Sun Taranis

It is believe that the Celtic people used these crosses and when the converted to Christianity the Celtic Cross came with them into the fold. The Celtic Cross is Very often associated with the Celtic or Irish Christians Church. When one sees the Celtic Cross the automatic thought is of the Irish tradition. There are some legends that attribute the introduction of the Celtic Cross to St. Columba, who was born in Northern Ireland in 521. Although some attribute the introduction of the Celtic cross to St. Patrick as well.




Saturday, July 26, 2008

Advent Wreath Packed with Symbols

The symbolism of an Advent Wreaths are the evergreen as it is a perfect symbol to of everlasting life. Holly is often on the advent wreath. The sharp leaves remind us of the crown of thorns. In England it was once believed the cross was made of Holy. Laurel is another item that can be seen on an advent wreath and it signifies victory. The Victory it signals is over persecution or suffering. Of course a circle has no beginning and no end and that is what God is. He has no beginning or end, In addition Christ is the path to everlasting life. Pinecones and other seed sac items are often used to represent life, where as they items are the seeds of life. When you combine the wreath and meditate on its symbolism in its totality, you my see that this wreath helps remind us of the everlasting life are promised by Christ.

The advent candles also have much symbolism. There are 4 candles to start representing the 4 weeks of advent. Lore says the reason 4 weeks was selected was that each candle represents 1,000 years. The cumulative 4,000 is to represent the years from Adam to Christ came into the world as a baby. The three purple candles are to remind us of the penance prayer and the season of preparing room for Jesus in our hearts. The 3rd Sunday is represented by a pink or rose candle and all the vestments and decor of the church changes to the rose color. This is a celebration of the faithful and signals the half way point of Advent. The symbolism of the advent candle lighting in its totality is a way to show commemorate the first coming of Christ and to show we are also hopeful for the second coming.

Again calling to mind the significance of the light and Christ's light in the world, the Advent wreath is one item that in any more should call to mind many aspects of the belief in Christ and help keep families grounded during the secular celebration of Christmas.



Friday, July 25, 2008

The Advent Calendar

There are several different manifestations of Calendars these days to help count down the days of Advent and help each family that faithfully observes Advent as a daily celebration.

The first Advent Calendar on record has the year 1851 on it and was handmade. The first ones, dating back to the 19th century came from Protestant religious, probably Lutheran, and were as simplistic as chalk lines drawn for each day of December.

The candle was also instrumental in the early advent calendars. They were 24 candles mounted in the wreath where as today we use 4. The story of the wreath was that it also helped light the longest winter nights in Germany, where the wreath concept was believed to start. The 24 candles light the night. And function as a calendar for Advent as well. As the nights get longer, the more candles are light. Other early Advent Calendars included the use of pictures being placed on the wall or chalk on the door until Christmas.

In a secular world that we now live, the the thought of how the first advent calendar was distributed might seem a bit alien. In 1904 one of the first printed advent calendar was in printed and inserted into German newspapers as a gift to their loyal readers. There does seem to be some disagreement however where some says that Gerhard Lang published the first one in 1908.

The first German Advent Calendar, also known as a Christmas Calendar or Munich Christmas Calendar was the first to have the little doors that are common in the modern Advent Calendars were given as children or taught with in Catholic School. The original calendars did have little Christmas themed pictures but the Sankt Johannis Printing company was credited with putting the corresponding bible verse behind the little doors.

These calendars now are a great way to keep children focused on the season of Advent, the meaning of Christmas and how it relates to Christ and not the mall.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

Advent Traditions

If you ask any Catholic, they will tell you the season of Advent is a period of penance and preparing their heart for the coming of the Baby Jesus. But although not part of the Holy See's opinion on Advent, the advent wreath, advent season and the family activities helps families stay focused on the real meaning of the season, Jesus, and not the commercialism Christmas has become.

In the Sixth Century, St. Gregory the Great was the first person to tie Advent to Christmas but didn't do it the way was now observe the season. He was suggesting that the period was better served to wait for the second coming as opposed to the annual reemergence of the Christ Child.

The protestant participation in Advent is seeing a rebirth in the last few years. Many are now using Advent within their churches. But what is most last effect of Advent is the focus on Faith. Each day and each week as the candles are lit on the advent wreath when done as a family allows for the focus shifted from gift giving to a daily reminder, pray or story about Jesus, the birth of Jesus, the promise of Jesus from the Old Testament or one of the points from the Jesse Tree stories.

In The Western churches, advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. If Christmas Eve is on a Sunday that does count for the last Sunday of Advent and the Christmas Seasons starts after 4 p.m when the Services of Christmas start. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, they begin Advent on Nov 15th and run for 40 days.

As any family battling to balance Faith in today's culture Advent and the use of an advent wreath gives families the perfect way to keep Christ the focus and centerpiece of Christmas.






Friday, July 18, 2008

Advent Wreaths in the Celtic Tradition


A Celtic Advent Wreath is the prefect vehicle to show the faith as a Christian as well as recalling heritage for your family.

In the original tradition, advent was a period of 40 days and not just four weeks. The four week period was introduced in the middle ages. The Celtic tradition has been one that has with stood time and still is celebrated to the present day. The Celtic advent mirrors the Lenten period before Holy Week and the Resurrection. What is most interesting by extending the period of time; it does put more structure in the Christmas season and allows the proper focus on the Lord and not on the commercial pitfalls of Christmas. More interesting still is that this period starts before the traditional start of the shopping season of Thanksgiving.

There are also Celtic Advent wreaths for the more modern four-week period of Advent. The Irish themed wreaths are perfect for the traditional Irish catholic family. The wreath itself is comprised of the four traditional candle holders to hold the 4 Advent Candles. In most cases the wreaths, although apply being made of evergreen, in the true Celtic tradition they are made of medals, often pewter.

They are braided in some cases to show a old Irish braid. The twisted rope design makes the base of the advent wreath. Often the Celtic knot is used to decorate the place where the candle sits. A Celtic knot has roots in the third and fourth century. The Celtic knot first showed up in art as an interlaced knot pattern making one mater pattern. Some are spirals or patterns form complex interwoven cords. In the Advent wreath reproduction of these knots forms the base.

Often our Celtic Home décor items and sacramental and seasonal items are very popular among the Irish. The Celtic art Form had become a national identify type identity for the Irish, Welch and Scottish. This provides each of our families to reinforce their family heritage as well as their religious heritage. Whether our families observe the traditional full 40 days and or the more modern four week period, the Celtic advent wreath provides a lasting tradition for families, regardless of their nationality and binds in their faith.