We are moving into the beginning of Advent, yet many of us have already been exposed to Christmas decorations, music and reminders of the number of ‘shopping days left’ until Christmas since early November. What we call the ‘Christmas season’ often begins several weeks before Christmas Day, thanks to the retail world and marketing. For many of our faith communities the season begins with the first Sunday of Advent, which falls on November 30 this year.
Perhaps you are like me, struggling to balance various celebrations and traditions while maintaining a focus on the true meaning of the season in the birth of Christ. Do you have families in your faith community that are struggling with how to make this a meaningful season for their children, beyond Santa and presents?
We spend a lot of time preparing for Christmas. Celebrating the Advent season in a meaningful way is an important faith marker in sharing our story as the people of God. According to the church calendar a new year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. There is something else we learn from following the church calendar and it is that Christmas is actually more than just a one day celebration. The Christmas season actually begins on Christmas Day and extends for the next 12 days, culminating in the celebration of Epiphany on January 6. ‘Epiphany’ is a Greek word that means ‘showing forth’. Another name for the day is 3 Kings Day. It signifies the visit of the Magi in the birth narrative of Jesus. It is also recognized as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.
Adding in another celebration or extending the Christmas season may not be appealing to you given all that already occurs but may I suggest that it might be worth reconsidering how the Christmas season is recognized. Perhaps you or the families in your faith community may be interested in taking a fresh look at Christmas traditions and celebrations and consider adding an Epiphany celebration as a way to end the Christmas season. It is difficult to completely avoid Santa and presents and all that our culture teaches us about the meaning of Christmas, however developing a tradition of focusing on the true Christmas season, with attention to the culmination in Epiphany might help to bring richer meaning and a lasting impact on children and families. I encourage you to check out some of the resources highlighted in our December eNews or do your own search for ideas.