By Theresa Micheal : As each day is closing into the Christmas Splendor, people are getting more and more aware about Christmas Advent, which is a season full of Christmas activities, starting as early as 27th of November till Christmas Day which falls on the 25th of December while the spirit moves on until the first week of January. The zing thing about all these activities is to bring closer a waning family lifestyle and encourage quality time with family, friends and neighbors.
In recent times the most common observance of Advent outside church circles has been the keeping of an advent calendar or advent candle, with one door being opened in the calendar, or one section of the candle being burned, on each day in December leading up to Christmas Eve.
An Advent Calendar is a creatively made motivational calendar motivational marking all the days of the month of December. It generally has 31 windows, and each window to be opened on a daily basis, and pasting Christmas stickers, stars for good behavior, tinsels for keeping the place clean, and other personalized practices like eating all the vegetables, finishing all the food on the plate, doing home work on time, reading aloud stories and songs.
An Advent Candle, is a daily candle lighting ceremony, where a tall candle marked with the 25 days of Christmas. This is a fun family way to enjoy a candle light dinners, especially for kids, as they can practice to finish their dinner, before the candle needs to be blown out, only to be burned again for the next dinner time.
The keeping of an advent wreath is also a common practice, with four or five candles extending from the wreath. The colors associated with the candles are variously interpreted.
The Advent Wreath, is another tradition that represents the passing of the four weeks of the Advent season. The wreath is usually made up of five candles, four different colored candles to circle the main candle which must be white, a color signifying purity. The four candles signify the four weeks, each candle is burned on the first day which should be ideally a Sunday, for family get-togethers where the week day programs is discussed. The white candle is kept until Christmas, and burned on the same day.
The Advent Bell, is ringing of the bells in a rhythmic manner to announce the starting of any ceremony. These bells are meant for the calling of the people from the community that the event is about to begin and all who hear the bell are welcome to the different services or events that are about to take place, whether it is a meeting, worship, get-together, sports or any related activity to bring the community together at one place. I love this tradition as my grandfather was well known for ringing the bells in one of the oldest churches of India, built by the British, and had rung the bells for the arrival of the Pope, Mother Theresa and many important dignitaries. The bells is the one of the largest bells in India, that we had more fun watching him ring the bell as every time he would pull the rope, he would go a couple of feet hanging in the air like a human pendulum. The precision of the sound was so loud and clear, that many Christians would be seen running towards the Church as soon as they would hear the bells ringing. During Christmas he would ring the bell as sharp 12:00 a.m. It would remind the entire city to start the Christmas ceremonies which begins mid-night onwards.
The Advent Star, is also known as the Star of Bethlehem, Star of Wonder, also called as the Christmas star. A symbol where the birth of Jesus is revealed to three wise men. This star is known to have shown the way of the three wise men from the east, to travel to see the prophecy revealed in Bethlehem. They follow the star and the star stops moving as soon as they reach a manger where Jesus is born. The pay homage, worship and give expensive gifts such as gold, frankincense and myrrh and return back to their country.
Every Christmas ornament has a story behind the scenes that revolves around the main theme which is the birth of Jesus Christ. Everybody loves Christmas, but this is the first step to introduce the new born children into the significance of the principals, practices, ethics, values, management of living a Christ like life, who professed that, “God is Love, ” and left us with a vital commandment, to love your neighbors and enemies as you would love yourselves. The teachings of Christ can inspire one and all just like it did for Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Micheal Jackson, Mother Theresa, and the list gets longer. Many speeches and songs are still inspired form the Bible, and a true English Literary person, will honor the Bible for it’s impeccable English.
This time the Angel Rangers a group for the children, of the children and by the children conducted various activities and events during the entire Advent Season to appraise the community on developing harmony and friendly relationship with each other. Children learnt to make chocolates at home, how to bake a cake and ice it too, Christmas cookies and goodies. Learnt to sing new Christmas Carols, a Christmas Poetry, Good Manners, dances. Theresa Micheal who currently residing in Chandigarh comes from a family where they have been celebrating Christmas events and activities for almost a century. The entire concepts on Christmassing has been transferred from generation to generation, and from neighborhood to neighborhood. According to her Christmas has changed as per personal choices, faith, beliefs, but the art of getting the family back together, to make up with strained relationships, and to mark the beginning of unity through peace for prosperity, this is the best day in the world.
She also organized a Christmas Tree drive, to send out strong outreach messages to grow more trees, and to preserve old trees, the Christmas Star drive was to curb pollution, the Christmas Cap drive was to enlighten that everyone can become a Santa Claus and do their bit to make the City Beautiful.