Now that the pie is eaten, it’s officially time to put up the Christmas tree! (No judgment if it’s already been up for a week…or three). Between parties, shopping and decorating, December can feel like a sprint to the 25th. 

On the Christian calendar, we have officially entered the season of Advent.

The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “arrival” or “coming.” In Ancient Rome, it was used to describe the “glorious entry” of an emperor to his capital city. In its verb form, advenio, it refers to something “developing” or “setting in.

The season of Advent creates space to earnestly turn our minds toward Christ’s first coming and our future assurance that He’s coming back again. The next few weeks are a sweet time to invite your children into this process of preparing your hearts to celebrate the birth of Christ, while looking with hope toward His glorious return. 

To offer you new ideas to try with your family, we asked some of our Wilson Hill teachers for their favorite Advent traditions:

We have always enjoyed reading Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp over the years. This year, we look forward to using The Weary World Rejoices: Daily Devotions for Advent edited by Melissa Kreuger. We also have the tradition of lighting advent candles at dinner time. 

Heather Tuin / Physics

The Advent Jesse Tree is our favorite family Christmas tradition. Each day has a corresponding ornament and the book suggests songs, prayers, and a devotional for both children and adults. All the ornaments are handmade and we use a special small tree as our Jesse Tree. When our children were little, they would take turns hanging the ornament each night, and when they got older they started telling the Bible stories. Over the years I have helped create 5 different complete sets to give to my children once they start their own families. My oldest got married this summer. He and his wife will receive their Jesse Tree box this month so they can start this tradition for themselves.

Jodi Smith / Language Arts

We in the Althage family like to read selections from St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation in preparation for the glorious mystery of Christ’s Nativity, usually in some conjunction with roaring bonfires and warm apple cider. We also eat only cold meals throughout Advent, as a reminder of the warmth of the light of Christ we joyfully anticipate. After we eat each evening, we look at the Advent Calendar and advance the various parties of the Christmas entourage toward that cozy stable they’re headed for.

Philip Althage / Logic & Rhetoric

Our family loves listening to Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God album. We also enjoy seeing them perform live in the years they have come to Austin during the Christmas season. 

Mindy Dixon / Language Arts

For each Sunday of Advent, we have a fondue dinner. This is usually the only time we have fondue so it remains very special. The flame that cooks our fondue meal reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World. Each Sunday, we fondue a different meat – chicken, pork, beef, and shrimp. We light our Advent candles and sing different verses of O’Come, O’Come, Emmanuel.

Wendy Seefried / Mathematics

Not Consumed Ministries has a bible study series called Uncovering the Mercies at the Manger that contains 25 bible studies leading up to Christmas. You can get different versions so they are age appropriate as well as Christmas Countdown cards that coincide with the lessons. My favorite thing is that the lessons span the Bible, beginning in Creation. 

Leah Coll / Latin

Our family lights the candles on our Advent wreath each night before dinner and reflects on the meaning of each candle. We also enjoy reading together from The Book of Common Prayer and God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas

Bart Martin / The Great Conversation

Our family always enjoyed reading Jotham’s Journey and Bartholomew’s Passage (Storybooks for Advent) by Arnold Ytreeide together at Christmastime. Great for younger children, it follows the story of a ten year old boy navigating Israel, eventually finding his way  to a baby in a manger. 

Laura Ruby / Composition & Writing

When our 4 kids were younger, each Advent we’d go through the book Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration. We’d light the appropriate candles in our Advent wreath, read through the scripture, sing, and pray for family, friends, and/or for those from whom we’d received a Christmas card that day. Just last year, I read through Shadow and Light: A Journey into Advent, by Tsh Oxenreider. Along with the devotions and reflections, there’s a piece of art to view each day and a playlist of music to accompany this book.

Denise George / Algebra