Wrapping and Giving Gifts, Advent activities 16 and 17

Forgive me for falling behind in Advent, between working, homeschooling and now being sick with a head cold I simply haven’t had time to update. So here we go 🙂

I don’t know about you but I love to wrap gifts and give them to friends and family. Truly makes me happy. Giving gifts has been around since the dawn of time. So when did wrapping them become almost as important as the gift? Gifts were simple  things such as cakes, candies, and fruit often wrapped by mothers. When the Victorian age came around people started purchasing gifts, which previously were all handmade, and using brown paper to wrap the gifts began. As time goes on the paper becomes more elaborate. God gave us the greatest gift of all time. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” With the birth and death of Jesus we get the best gift! Really the only gift we could ever need/want.

Long ago children in Holland would save their pennies all year by placing them in a “Feast Pig” ( the very first piggy banks shaped like a pig ) and on the day after Christmas they would give the money to the poor. Giving to those in need;  who otherwise wouldn’t have anything is the best giving you can do for your reward will come from Jesus.

Advent Sunday so we lit the 3rd candle (Pink) The Shepherd Candle or The Candle of Joy. The angels sang a message of JOY!  NKJV Luke 2:7-15 New King James Version 

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  1So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.

The 12 days of Christmas, Advent activity 15

12 Days of Christmas Song

Such a fun song to listen to but do you know the history behind each one of the 12 days and gifts? Well for nearly 300 years it was illegal to be catholic in England but the catholic parents still wanted to teach their children about God so they got creative. 12 days of Christmas is a secret code to teach about God and his gifts. Here is the code broken via Catholicnewsagency

“The “True Love” one hears in the song is not a smitten boy or girlfriend but Jesus Christ, because truly Love was born on Christmas Day. The partridge in the pear tree also represents Him because that bird is willing to sacrifice its life if necessary to protect its young by feigning injury to draw away predators.

According to Ann Ball in her book, HANDBOOK OF CATHOLIC SACRAMENTALS:

The two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments

The three French hens stood for faith, hope, and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five golden rings rerepresented the first five books of the Old Testament, which describe man’s fall into sin and the great love of God in sending a Savior.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit—–Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit—–Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience [Forbearance], Goodness [Kindness], Mildness, Fidelity, Modesty, Continency [Chastity].

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful Apostles.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles’ Creed.”

You know before reading The Adventure of Christmas I never new this meaning but I think it is great. I hope through the sharing of this post others can come to know the history behind this wonderful song.

Day 15 of the countdown to Christmas scripture, Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her first born son. She wrapped his in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn.

 

Caroling, Advent Activity 14

Do you go caroling? We don’t mainly because we are shy for the most part, but I do think it is a wonderful thing to do. We have friends that take their kiddos to local nursing homes and retirement villages to do so. I care for some of those retired folks and they always say how happy they are to see/hear the children caroling. It warms my heart. So where did caroling start? In the 13th century a friar named Francis of Assisi introduced caroling into formal worship ( much like how we sing praise songs in our modern day church ) during midnight mass in a cave in Italy. He encouraged his members to spread the good news through songs about Christmas. And so they did! That night after mass they went through the village and sang 🙂

Penatonix, is one of my favorite groups right now and I  LOVE their Christmas album. Go check it out.

Day 14 of the countdown to Christmas scripture, Luke 2:6 While they were there the time came for the baby to be born.

 

 

Baking, Advent Activity 13

Winter and baking just goes hand in hand doesn’t it? We love baking season and take full advantage of it! Really on this day of advent there is no “history” other that as time when on and ingredients became more readily available so moms and wives became more creative in their Christmas goodies 🙂 Each year we make sugar cookies. No special recipe just your standard sugar cookie recipe.

What are your favorite recipes to bake during the season? Please feel free to share in the comment section, I love to try new ones!

Day 13 Luke 2:4-5 So Joseph also when to the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem ( the town of David ) because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

Christmas Cards, Advent Activity 12

Christmas cards are fun to send out, well at least for me. Yes we has social media and can just put out a blanket greeting but it is much more personal to get a card in the mail. I have an assortment of cards and I pick out each one specifically for each person on my list. So how did we get this tradition of mailing cards to one another? Well Sir Henry Cole sent the very first card just before Christmas. His buddy J.C. Horsely thought is was a great idea and in 1843 he started selling Christmas cards. He quickly sold out of the first 1000 he made and thus the tradition was born! Most early cards had scenes of the Nativity and Christmas related imagery and the insides had greetings from bible passages like  “Behold I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people” Luke 2:10 and “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” John 20:21.

Day 12 of the countdown to Christmas scripture. Luke 2:1-3 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman empire, this was the first census that was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria, so everyone returned to their home towns.

Candles, Advent Activity 11

Do you put candles in your windows at Christmas time? I do. Why? Well part to do with my Irish heritage and part because I think it is very pretty 🙂 Why because of my Irish heritage? Well in the 17th century when British conquerors came into Ireland they created laws to try to get rid of Irish traditions. Irish children were not allowed to go to school Irishmen could no longer vote, own land, or own a horse worth more than $25 and worst was that Irish priest were being driven from their homeland and persecuted for their faith. How horrible! But Irish families had a secret code for them on Christmas Eve; they would place 3 candles in their window to let the priests know it was safe. The three candles represented Mary, Joseph and Jesus. What a wonderful way to make the best of the situation and still practice their faith. It is a great example of never forsaking your faith due to unjust laws made by the faithless.

Day 11 of the countdown to Christmas scripture. Luke 1:46-56 And Mary said ” My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about 3 months and then returned home.

 

Angels, Advent Activity 10

Angels are so important to the Christmas story. Who did God send to Mary to let her know she had been chosen to bring our Savior into this broken, fallen world to save us from our sins? The angel Gabriel. Who convinced Joseph that it was okay to still marry Mary? An angel.  Who announced his birth? A whole chorus of Angels! They are amazing little messengers. We can be angels of God by doing good deeds. You could invite a lonely neighbor over for dinner and have a good evening. You could donate your time at a soup kitchen or serve Christmas dinner to our homeless and veterans at a local shelter. There are so many ways you can be an angel to brighten someone’s day/life. One way we play angel is every year we pick up a gift for a boy around my son’s age and donate it to the Angel Tree that Walmart or Kmart usually have up front. The gift usually consists of a toy the child requests on the tag and hat/gloves to help stay warm. We live in the Mid-West and those are a MUST living through our sometimes brutal winters. Please check out your local Salvation Army for details if you would like to be an angel.

Day 10 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture: Luke 1:42-45, In a loud voice Elizabeth exclaimed ” Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Today is Advent Sunday so we lit the 2nd purple candle, The candle of Preparation or the candle of Bethlehem (peace)- God has kept his promise of a savior who would be born in Bethlehem. Preparation means to “get ready”. Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O God! Luke 3:4-6- As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

The Colors of Christmas, Advent Activity 9

I think the colors of Christmas are my favorite! Red, white, green, silver and gold. Did you know that each color has significant meaning for Christmas?

Red: Is for the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross.

White: Is for the purity Jesus had living a life free of sin and being the spotless Lamb.

Green: Is for the eternal life given to us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Silver: Is for the silver coins that was paid for His betrayal and our redemption.

Gold: Is a reminder that God’s Son is a great and divine King.

As the seasons change God, the Master Painter of our world, gives us physical reminders of his great love for us. Through the red of Christmas berries, white of snow, green of the ever-green trees, silver of tinsel we put on our Christmas trees and gold of the trumpet the angels play.

Day 9 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture Luke 1:38-41 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. at that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of judean, where she entered Zachariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Outdoor Lights, Advent Activity 8

Don’t you just love driving around and looking at the Christmas lights? We have lots in our city and local area. We ohhh and awe at the imagination some folks have! Do you know who started this who idea of decorating our homes with lights? Edward Johnson. Just a few short years after the invention of the light bulb (1882)  he was decorating with colored lights! 13 years after that President Grover Cleveland plugged in the very first light up Christmas tree in the White House. After WWII American families could afford to decorate with colored lights and you know how us Americans are; we are competitive! So if our neighbor hung lights so did we! Our neighborhoods began to light up during the Christmas season.

Matthew 5: 14 & 16 reminds us “You are the light of the world-like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” Our lights help remind us that as christians we are to be the light of the world and do good deeds to gain praise for our heavenly Father.

Day 8 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture: Luke 1:37 For no word from God will ever fail.

X-mas Greetings, Advent Activity 7

How do you greet people this time of year? Happy Holidays? Merry Christmas? Feliz Navidad? I usually say “Happy Holidays.” However you say it I am sure it brightens that persons day. I prefer to say “Happy Holidays” simply because you never know specifically what he/she celebrates this time of year. They could be Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah, they could be pagan/druid and celebrate the solstice, or whatever their religious background “Happy Holidays” covers them!

Happy Holidays began as “Happy Holy Days”

“Merry X-Mas” I know this irks some because they see it as taking Christ out of Christmas ( I know it did me for a time till I read about it in this book )” X is the first letter- chi (Pronounced “kie”)- of the Greek word Christos, meaning Anointed One, or Messiah” – (excerpt from the book The Adventure of Christmas.) X-mas is just shorthand for Christmas. No harm no foul! 🙂

Here are some different ways to say “Merry Christmas”:

Italian- Buon Natale (bwon nuh-tall-a)

Maltese- Il-Milied It-Tajjeb (il-millit it-ti-yup)

Polynesian- Ia Orana no te Noere (yo-rah-nah noh tay noh-ay-ray)

Hungarian- Boldog Kara’csonyt (bahl-dah kah-ri chah-nyew)

Hawaiian-Mele Kalikimaka (meh-leh kah-lee-kee-mah-kah)

Chinese- Sheng Tan Kuai Lob (shung tahn kwi lub)

How many can you say? How many did you already know?

Day 7 of the countdown to Christmas Scripture: Luke 1:34-36 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age-she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.”

I really hope you are enjoying the Advent activities and I highly encourage you to purchase the book The Adventure of Christmas. Yes I do get a small kick back if you purchase via my Amazon link but that isn’t my main goal, I just love sharing the love of Christmas with everyone 🙂