Okay so even when I was a christian I was never sure which day to start advent so this year I am-surely!- off the mark again. This year I’ve decided that the Solstice is a Tuesday so we’ll start our countdown this Tuesday.Keepin’ it simple…yup…

Out of all the things I’ve hated about Christmas growing up-and when you have a highly dysfunctional family there’s a lot to hate-advent was one of the things I always looked forward to. I loved the somber tones
that fell upon the congregation when the pastor began to talk about
preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ child. The lights
would be dimmed and the sanctuary, already decorated with evergreens and
pine boughs, would be cast in a soft glow. Then the moment would come
when a member of the congregation would make their processional down the
aisle with an incredibly long(or so it seemed to me at that age) golden
candle-lighter with a good balance of pomp, circumstance and solemnity
mixed in. The candle was lit and we prayed for god to prepare our
hearts.

One year I was fortunate enough to be the chosen candle-lighter. I was incredibly thrilled that this great responsibility was bestowed upon me(yeah I was one of those kids…almost became a foreign missionary
actually but that’s another post….). When the lights dimmed, casting
everything in a golden green light I walked up the aisle and light the
second advent candle. It was a really huge deal for me and, despite
moving beyond Christianity, it’s something that I still hold in high
regard. That soft candle glow is reminiscent of so many circles that I
have cast in candle light-maybe that’s partly where my candle
fascination comes from. It really is an almost eerie pagan glow that
fills the church…

..which of course makes sense, the advent wreath being of pagan origin. Now honestly, sitting here searching the web for scholarly sources I can’t find many that say this but I trust they are
out there-plenty of anti-pagan rants or little blips like “the wreath
has pagan origins.” Even Wikipedia couldn’t make up it’s mind as to the
origins of the wreath-pagan, middle ages, 19th century missionary…(just
click the link if you want to know…).The best source I could find comes
from Rachelle Mee-Chapman. She explains that Pagans would bring in
their wagon wheels during winter so they wouldn’t get ruined by the
harsh weather. They would be hung from the ceiling as “an impromptu
chandelier” and decorated with evergreens and candles as the solstice
grew closer, spinning the whole thing (fire hazard) to ask the powers
that be to return the light to the world. Four weeks later what do you
know it worked?(1).

The Christians began incorporating it when German Lutherans, in the 16th Century began using the wreaths to celebrate the coming of Jesus instead of the coming sunlight (2). German immigrants also took the
practice with them wherever they settled including the United States.

Me, I like to use the time to prepare myself for the majesty of the night and the rebirth of the sun. Each week, this year I’ll be focusing on one of four…thoughts?….words?…that are integral to celebrating the
season; hope, peace, joy and love. This week, being the beginning, we’ll
focus our small advent ritual on hope.


read more at http://totalwitch.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/advent-wreaths-these-are...

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