Advent is the religious season preceding the Feast of Christmas. The Advent Season begins four Sundays before Christmas and lasts from 21-28 days depending upon when the first Sunday of Advent falls. In 2008, Advent begins on Sunday, December 2 and includes December 9, 16 and 23. As a penitential season, Advent is observed with three main virtues: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. On Advent Sundays candles are lit on the advent wreath. As a penitential season, the candles are blue or purple. On Gaudette Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, we light a pink candle to symblolize the advent attitude of joy. On Christmas the white Christ Candle is lit.
Advent is marked with a daily advent calendar as well. Advent calendars make a nice countdown to Christmas. These calendars range from the very elaborate handmade cloth ones, to a simple cardstock calendar. Each night of advent, a little window on the calendar is opened to reveal a Bible verse or holiday thought. If you’d like to begin or continue this tradition in your home, there are numerous websites which offer free printable Advent calendars. Some are very religious and others are simpler Christmas countdown calendars. I’ve listed links to a variety of Advent calendars. Children can color, cut, paste and assemble these calendars and enjoy them.
The beloved children’s author/illustrator Jan Brett has designed a free printable Advent calendar. (click here to print). The youngest children can help to assemble this calendar.
Our friends at Lee Hanson (click here to print) have a free printable Advent calendar wreath combination. While not the usual window calendar, I thought it was so cute that I’d include it. Children cut out a christmas wreath and each night, they glue one leaf to the wreath. Extend this activity with a family discussion about what we are thankful for, hopes for the new year or Biblical characters in the lineage of Jesus ( a Jesse Tree Craft as well).
Kaboose has a free printable Advent calendar in the shape of Santa Clause. (click here to print). First School. ws also has a free printable Santa Clause Advent calendar. First School has complete lesson plans, prayer guide and how-to-make instructions.
Domestic Goddess has a simple Art Nouveau block style free printable Advent calendar in the shape of a Christmas Tree. (click here to print)
Presentation Helper has free advent calendar templates and other free Christmas goodies. These are more contemporary patterns. Kids’ Turn Central (click here to print) has several free printable advent calendars. After printing, children can design and use the calendars in different ways.
May your Advent be full of hope, anticipation, expectation and joy.