Often in the midst of pre-Christmas frenzy, the crowds, the noise and the sheer madness in the shops, I find the craving for tradition, for the down to earth, and for authenticity, sets in. The desire to celebrate friends and family and all that is good in our life, wherever in the world we are, despite all the challenges. Thinking about traditions makes me remember family stories of times past, when life was also tough, but in its own unique way, where the level of consumerism often celebrated today was unthinkable and impossible. When Christmas was celebrated with small gifts of oranges, chocolate, nuts and clementines and new pairs of woolly socks knitted by your grandmother.
Today is a day of tradition, it is the first day of advent, the period leading up to Christmas. And the pictured advent wreath is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent. According to Wikipedia, the advent Wreath is traditionally a Lutheran practice, which has been adopted by other Christian denominations. It is traditional to mark the first of advent with the lighting of the first and tallest candle on an advent wreath. On the last Sunday before Christmas the fourth and last candle is lit. December in places where there is no sun, but it doesn’t snow either, has the potential to be a dark and draining month which is another reason I love having an advent wreath in the house. Lighting the first candle on the wreath, inhaling the scent of the pine needles, enjoying a good tea, a good book and biscuits given to you by friends, in my case delectable poppy-seed and nut sandwich biscuits, make December Sunday afternoons at home something truly special.
Making your own wreath:
Not finding a wreath I liked at the florists, I ended up decorating my own. I bought a base made of straw, already covered in pine branches ( in previous years I started out with pine branches and a straw ring, but this was easier). We used 4 long furniture screws, which go through the straw base and come out the other side (see photo below) as candle spikes. Nails would work if you have them.
Using natural materials: dried orange and apple slices, some wooden stars, some coconut wood stars, star aniseed, cinnamon sticks and thick white wool I decorated the wreaths in a what I imagine to be a Swedish style. Wooden stars were wrapped with gold wire and thicker wire was threaded into the back and used to attach the stars to the wreath. Other decorative items were “tacked” to the wreath using thicker wire.