Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent - not Christmas - yet

Advent is here.  In the US, as well as many other countries, we are now in what is called the Christmas Season.
In Norway, Christmas doesn't start until Christmas Eve, and traditionally it lasts until Epiphany. (January 6th)
This is what it's supposed to be, the Christian Christmas, "The twelve days of Christmas" and all that.  
The season we're in right now is Advent, not Christmas.  Advent means Coming (Latin), because these weeks are about preparation for the one who is coming, and for the Holiday that is coming.
In many ways it can be compared to the preparation that goes ahead of a wedding, a big travel, or a childbirth...
In Norway, we have lots and lots of Advent traditions.  There are special cookies to be baked, there are decorations to be made, songs to be sung, and of course cards to be written and gifts to be wrapped.  
These things, these actions, scents, sounds, are important for may of us.  Important because they are much like a ritual, something that has to be done, but in a good way, because it fills us with the good Christmas feeling.
I love the anticipation, the up-building of excitement,
and longing for what is yet to come.  
Unopened gifts, unopened joy.

We have the Advent star up in the kitchen window, we have our Advent calendar, and the four Advent candles.  
Last Sunday we lit the first candle, while we sung the verse that goes with it.  Next Sunday we'll be lighting two of them, and so on all the way to the last Sunday in Advent.  
The Christmas tree is only taken in and decorated the night before Christmas Eve.
However, I can see that Norway is taking after other countries in christmasizing Advent.  People talk about "Christmas calendars", they start earlier and earlier with the decorating, it is almost like they rush it to be done with it!  "Baked cookies, check!  Decorated tree, check!  Wrapped gifts, check!"  So, instead of the up-building, anticipation and longing of Advent, people just jump in, skipping this important step.
I love Christmas,
and I love Advent 
maybe even more...

Tenn Lys!
Et lys skal brenne for denne lille jord.
Den blanke himmelstjerne, hvor vi og alle bor.
Må alle dele håpet, så gode ting kan skje.
Må jord og himmel møtes,
et lys er tent for det.
Eyvind Skeie

Light the light!
One candle shall burn for this little planet.
The shiny heavenly star, where we and others live.
May everyone share the hope, so good things can happen
May Earth and Heaven meet,
one candle is lit for that.
(Translated from the text by Eyvind Skeie)

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