Note: since my family (and our traditions!) is pretty new, some friendly Waldorf families have generously shared photos.
This year, Advent begins on Sunday, November 30. There are so many ways to observe Advent in your home! If you have a Christian family, this time of year is filled with the anticipation of Christ’s arrival. If your family adheres to a different religion (or even if you are completely secular), you can still participate–think of it as a way to remember that even in darkest winter, we still have family and friends, the earth and animals to give us joy. Either way, you might want to use Rudolf Steiner’s Advent poem to guide your celebration:
“The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Roots, stem, leaf, flower and fruit by whom we live and grow.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
Animals of farm, field, forest, air and sea.
All await the birth in greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind.
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand”
Each Sunday, light an Advent candle and say the appropriate verse. Use the verse to inspire your family’s activities for the week. The first week celebrates the Earth. Go on a walk and challenge your children to find beautiful stones to bring home to your nature table (remember, your idea of beauty and theirs might differ! You might see a simple white driveway rock while your child notices that it sparkles in the sun). If you live near the beach, go collect shells and sea glass. You can also make your own crystals pretty easily! Your children will love to see their crystals form, as if by magic. Finally, try to help the planet while you are on your stone-and-shell-gathering missions. Take along trash bags and clean as you walk.
The second Sunday of Advent celebrates plants. On your nature walks this week, don’t just think about your nature table, but find ways to bring greenery into your house. Collect pine boughs, make a wreath for your door, and put up the Christmas tree. Take a poinsettia to a neighbor or to church.
In our house, we are really looking forward to the third week of Advent, which honors animals. We are going to bake special treats for our two dogs, and make winter bird feeders with dried fruit, seeds, and gelatin (check back in a couple of weeks for a tutorial!). I also have a linen closet full of extra towels. I think I will donate them to the local cat rescue. You might observe this week by hanging some popcorn and berries from a tree or volunteering at a shelter.
The last week of Advent honors people. Have each member of your family decorate a piece of paper with his or her name, and then pass the paper around the table. Write or draw something kind about the person whose paper you’re holding. Make cookies for neighbors, or help out at the local pantry. You might even decide to dig deeper, and get in touch with someone you’ve been missing, or mend fences with someone you’ve disagreed with. Urge your children to make a special effort to get along this week (good luck with this one!). We plan on using a kindness gnome all season, but if you haven’t, the fourth week of Advent is a great time to introduce your family to the nicer alternative to the Elf on a Shelf.
After four weeks of living so consciously, I hope you notice a difference in your home and heart, and both are filled with the light of Advent.
Please leave comments with details of your observations, and make sure to share your Instagram photos with the tag #happyhedgehogpost!