Adventures with Advent
Trying to be a good Swedish mum at Christmas, is very busy work. Once I got over the utter shock and awe of THERE NOT BEING EVEN ONE END OF YEAR CELEBRATION EITHER AT PRESCHOOL OR SCHOOL* my Yuletide spirit has been taken up by something else…
We are currently in the midst of Advent glee, a tradition that has been celebrated in Sweden since the 1890’s – so who am I to come along and bugger things up.
By December, Sweden has very few hours of daylight so some clever bugger came up with the idea of celebrating the four Sundays before Christmas, by lighting candles and drinking mulled wine.
Now, most households light a candle on each Sunday and so many windows are filled with pretty stars, recalling the star that guided the Three Wise Men. It really does help combat the darkness, when snow and stars combine.
Another tradition that dates back nearly 100 years is that of the Advent calendar, where children open a window in the calendar for each passing day until Christmas Eve.
And as you know me and Christmas, the children each have five advent calendars, so we have a total of 15 for this household. Just enough, praise be.
Advent Calendar #1
A free one from the supermarket was brought home one day in late November by the Swede but has largely been forgotten now.
Advent Calendar #2
The main attraction, is the entirely beautiful Advent calendar that my wonderful mother-in-law made for the girls. In late November, we received a box of beautiful numbered gifts and strict instructions as to where they should be placed. There was also a democratic calendar with instructions about who can open which gift, on which day.
Some days there is a gift for all of them, some days it is individual, but all days are met with excitement and eyes that sparkle wide with joy. Beautifully planned, we also got a small cash gift for the day we will drive up north, so that the girls can buy something to enjoy in the car.
Advent Calendar #3
The first gift in grandma’s advent calendar, was three mini Advent calendars. So beautiful, I love them!
Advent Calendar #4
On public TV, there is a hugely popular Christmas calendar show with 24 episodes and a matching actual calendar OF COURSE. Every morning we wake the girls at 7am, light some candles, usher them downstairs and all watch the 7.15am, 10 minute ‘Christmas Calendar’ show. THEY LOVE IT.
At the end of the episode, the host of the show lets everyone know when the much-awaited time to open the calendar is.
And that’s when all the girls yell all at the same time, because whoever was in the think tank of making this year’s actual calendar, made it really hard to open, so parental help is always needed.
AND GOD FORBID, YOU CANNOT SHARE A CALENDAR IF ONE IS MISSING, AUSTRALIA WOULD HAVE TO FREEZE OVER BEFORE THAT WOULD EVEN BE A THINKABLE SOLUTION.
Advent Calendar #5
At 6.45pm, there is also a radio Christmas calendar thanks to the great Swedish public radio. Also 10-minutes long, it’s another story and has its own actual calendar. OF COURSE. And you get secret clues to the additional content/games that are online. We never seem to make the 6.45pm mark, but every night at bedtime, we all jump into bed and listen to it through the app.
This has become a lovely routine and nice way to end the day. The routine also includes sisters talking over the story, sisters yelling at each other to stop talking over the story, me yelling at everyone to be quiet and just listen, lost radio Advent calendars, holding hands of the 3.5yr as its too scary and general mayhem.
Our girls, at 3.5, 5 and 7, are the perfect age for the wonders of Christmas. They are believers and dreamers and love all the beautiful traditions that Sweden brings…
I am missing home and taking Vitamin D tablets. And loving all of the above.
P.S I think all the keeping track of the 9-15 advent calendars, remembering to watch all the episodes both on TV and radio + associated content through apps, equates to the ‘elf on the shelf’ efforts made by many other parents around the world. I feel your pain.
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