However much we moan about it, most of us cherish our routines, need that steady rhythm in our life for peace, stability and joy. An extension to routine is tradition, the bells of the festivities / seasons that cement us to life’s path, that unite families and friends, that bring together our loved ones for celebrations. Traditions at times of life and death. Together being the keyword.

One such tradition is celebrated by many today and I want to wish everyone a very Happy 1st  Advent.

As young we would gather on each Sunday staring at the unlit candles, the four red lights signifying to me an unquantifiable long run until Christmas. The patience needed for those four weeks was not within my grasp as in my excitement I would physically become sick. Older and maybe even a little bit wiser I now treasure the whole peace of December, the calm Sundays, the significance of that first light.


Another tradition is the star in the window, a beacon of hope and belief in life itself I feel. A sparkle of joy from our window to passers by walking their dogs in the grey drizzle, to the school children walking through the early frosty morning.

imageFinally, but not least – Advent Calendars! The big kid in me is still as excited by these as when young. My son has his already – it is one we made many years ago together when he was very young. One of those projects you embark upon, thinking this will be easy and quick. Two days later we had ransacked our house for little boxes, the dining room turned into an art studio of paint and glue, I’d explored art shops for gold paint. The advent box is now slightly worn and tired but lives on gloriously, bright with the wonderful memories it shares, solid with tradition, the embellishment of love and family.

52 thoughts on “HAPPY 1st ADVENT

    1. Thank you very much, Janice. I’ve enjoyed reading about traditions here on wordpress this season and wanted to share mine. The advent calendar is great although I have to do repairs every year! Think it might survive a few more years – just! Wishing you a lovely Christmas.

  1. There is such hope that comes from lighting those candles on the early dark evening of December. I have not done this in a very long time but I may start again. Thanks for the reminder of the beauty of the tradition.

    1. It is a beautiful tradition and it would be lovely if you took it up again. 😀It always adds a moment of stillness and reflection during this busy month and it’s a special occasion when all four candles are brightly alight, heralding Christmas celebrations. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

  2. Happy First Advent to you Annika! I too still feel the same surge of excitement at opening the first window of our advent calendar, and still give one to each of my grown children 🙂 I love how your bright, shining star sends a beautiful message to those passing by. That is excactly how I feel when we put up our stars and lights to herald in the Christmas season and message. Giving hope and light in this dark world. Lovely post, thank you 🙂

    1. Sherri, I can really feel your warmth and passion for Christmas flowing from your words. Absolutely bursting with light and love. 😀It is about hope and love this time of year and all these traditions encapsulate this notion. Wonderful that you too have a star up and give advent calendars to your children! Nearly time to light the second candle…Thank you so much for you kind comments, warmest wishes to you.

      1. Happy Second Advent Annika! Thank you so much for your lovely, kind sentiments…you inspire me to hold onto the light and love that such precious family traditions bring, reminding me of all that I shared with my children when they were small and today as adults 🙂 Such a blessing. Warmest wishes and hugs back to you at this special time ❤

  3. We have many Advent traditions and continue the ones we learned in Germany as well. So Dec. 5 in the evening, we’ll put a shoe outside our door for Nikolaus. We also are using the countdown calendars counting the days until Christmas. Memories and traditions are valued in our family.

    1. I knew there was a tradition in Germany early on in December but didn’t remember about the shoe outside the door! I wonder why! It is wonderful to treasure these family traditions and as you live the present every time the past memories are also recalled – quite a blessing. Thank you for your comment Mary Ann.

      1. Let’s see who remembers the shoe in my family! St. Nikolaus comes Dec. 6 and the Christkind comes Dec. 24-25. Little German children search the house for the largest shoe/boot on Dec. 5. Hahaha. My guess is that we have Christmas stockings to hang for small presents. The Germans did not and used one shoe. Thanks for writing. I love the combination of your cultural heritage with Swedish and now living in the UK plus having studied in Germany. Enjoy the season!

        1. Oh, so the shoe is for presents to be left in – now that makes sense. I had visions of it disappearing and this taking place across the country! My mind has been in a mad spin I think. England has the stocking although as we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve we don’t do them. You too have brought a variety of cultures into the season and that only adds to the warmth and joy.

          1. The shoe is usually filled with fruit, nuts and small presents only. No, the shoe does not disappear. I agree that knowing several cultures and languages enhances the season. We say Merry Christmas in the US and in GB, they say Happy Christmas. What about Sweden?

            1. God Jul! Och Gott Nytt Ar! That’s it in Swedish. In England we do say merry although happy Christmas is more common I guess. It’s fun learning things in new languages. Don’t forgot to put your shoe out on the 6th!

  4. I remember this so well. And our church used to light candles in the advent wreath. The best part of Christmas to me is this kind of reflection and remembrance, drenched in tradition, and speaking to the heart. Lovely.

    1. Renee, you are so right and this is just what I felt I wanted to share with everyone. Christmas isn’t about the mania for presents but this quiet warm reflection. I adore your phrase, ‘drenched in tradition’ – wonderful and it’s a gift to be able to appreciate it.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Karin. I bought the star in Sweden many years ago when I moved into my own place and so far it’s survived all my moves since. It does shine so beautifully I agree and I love coming home in the dark and seeing it alight. Have a great day yourself. 😀

  5. You are so right, Annika. Those traditions seem to say the world is nicely spinning, doing it’s job. When a tradition is missed, it is a hollow emptiness. My family is angry at me–I have no idea why–and has stopped inviting me to Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t really care, except that its a tradition we all enjoyed, and now we don’t. I spend a lot of time over the holiday telling myself it’s their loss!

    1. Oh Jacqui, I am so sorry to read about the trouble in your family. Is that with your siblings? That is terrible and must hurt so and is a definite hollowness. Is there any hope of reconciliation? Could someone step in to help? I read that you saw your son and daughter over Thanksgiving. I hope that can be a small (big) balm for your pain. I do like your phrase: ‘Those traditions seem to say the world is nicely spinning, doing it’s job’ Beautifully said and has me smiling. How true! Take care😀

      1. Thanks, Annika. I’m assuming time will heal whatever the injury. Someday, they’ll reach out and I’ll explain I have no idea what caused it.

        Yes, my children are amazing. We had a wonderful time!

  6. Annika, your post is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. It’s about taking time for the calm and peace of December rather than getting caught up in the frenzy of last minute shopping and the chaos of parties we’re not to keen on attending. Always good to be reminded of what really matters. 🙂

    1. It is easy to get carried away this time of year Carol so when I felt the peace of this advent I so wanted to share it with others. Thankfully I no longer take part in the mad last minute shopping – having almost completed everything over a few calm weekends out although we will head into town one Saturday just for the atmosphere and to see the lights. Warm wishes to you. 😀

  7. Peter R

    It’s a wonderful tradition to bring a gentle light into the world as the days get darker. One of the things I like about Advent Candles is that each Sunday, as the second, third and fourth ones are lit, the light gets stronger. There’s also Lucia coming up. Lots of light to look forward to; and then Christmas!

    1. You’re right Peter, the light definitely becomes brighter through the Sundays and then extra celebrations on Lucia and I’m hoping to write a special post about that – see if I dig up some old photos. I think December might become Christmas 101 posts!

  8. Thank you for sharing your traditions, Annika. We had advent calendars when I was a kid, and we also had St. Nick night on Dec 10? when St. Nick would leave nuts and some candy. Since my mom passed away, Christmas hasn’t been the same. The memories of the traditions, though, are comforting.

    1. Julie, I’m so sorry for you that your mom is no longer with you and of course nothing is ever the same again. If this post could give you a little comfort and cheer I’m happy. St. Nick I thought is a French or German tradition? Am I right? Where did you live when you celebrated Dec. 10? Traditions are so grounding I feel – a fact I only recently realised.

  9. Anonymous

    Lovely blog Annika, and thanks for sharing this with us. Sounds like you have a lovely home too, especially with three advent calendars (and it looks like the two end ones may contain chocolate!).
    I find that no sooner are you lighting the first candle than you are lighting the last one. Time goes that fast during December.


    1. You are a keen eyed observer Mike, there are indeed two chocolate calendars and I won’t say what my son’s contains as he read this! There is far too much chocolate in the house over this season but I am weak willed regarding this matter…never mind…just a moment as I reach for a seashell choc.Try to treasure each day leading up to Christmas and nurture it to fullness and joy, then hopefully you will not feel time passes so quickly.

  10. Mirja

    Thank you Annika for this beautiful post. Yes to the uniting family and loved ones. Uniting friends everywhere. Uniting people across the globe.

    I am Swedish as you know and share these traditions. They are not memories, Just so alive and so important. I hope many of you who never lit these candles will join in and the circle will grow.
    Love your photos too.

    1. That’s a lovely thought, Mirja, inviting everyone to join in lighting advent candles at home, even if this is not one of their Christmas traditions. It is a time of union and celebration that travels across the world as you say. I’m glad you liked the photos, rather tricky in the dark light and by the time I had finished playing photographer I was lucky my family had left me any biscuits!

    1. Diane, a lot of my friends seemed to ‘grow out’ of Christmas but I never did and hence enjoyed carrying over the traditions from home. As for advent calendars, I still love them and the one year my mother didn’t buy me one after I’d moved out I was so sad she became mortified and went out and got me one. Children eh! Great you have your grandson now to share in all the fun.

  11. Thank you for such a beautiful post. You brought back memories from my childhood. We didn’t light candles but celebrated at mass. I will light my candle tonight. -JC

    1. Annika

      Thank you so much JC, I wrote this from the heart and I’m happy it brought back memories from your childhood. May you feel peace in your soul as you light the first candle tonight. Warm wishes.

  12. Happy first of Advent to you, too.
    It’s crazy that it’s already the season! (especially here in south Florida, where the green palm trees are swaying in a balmy wind). However, by the fourth week, it’s always definitely Christmastime.
    My family has gathered every year on these Sundays for a quiet moment of lighting the candle(s), sharing cookies and other sweet treats, and exchanging thoughts and hopes for the week. I have always loved these moments together. Thanks for the reminder about why.
    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

    1. Annika

      Thank you and I’m now going crazy trying to remember the Christmas song the line ‘it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas’ comes from. These Sundays are indeed precious, being together, moments of quiet conversation, subdued but joyful. We also always have a cake or biscuits as well. Later on there will be the homemade Swedish gingerbread biscuits. So glad you liked the post.

    1. Annika

      Bette,I’m am now intrigued and wondering what some of those traditions from long ago were and what are some new ones? Thank you so for your comment.

      1. Old: Swedish Gingerbread Cookies, sugar cookies (cut and decorated by the whole family), making and delivering Christmas Cookie Boxes to family and friend; caroling, opening one gift on Christmas Eve… New: Making seashell ornaments with daughter and grandkids; some for our own trees and many more to box and give as gifts; festive wrapping of jams and jellies to give as gifts; attending Christmas Eve Service with daughter and grandkids! ❤

        1. Annika

          Bette, this is poetical, beautiful traditions of old and new. I love it and have read it many times. I recognise some of the old ones and we still make Swedish gingerbread (Pepparkakor) – or rather my mother and son do! The sea shell ornaments sound lovely and what a great idea to box for presents. You now have me thinking of the old and new…thank you so replying.

          1. Yes! My mother’s Mama arrived in Kansas from Sweden at the age of seven. Her Papa emigrated with with his family several years before that. His Mama owned and operated a hotel/boarding house in Kansas. I only wish that I had asked more questions many years ago. Another tradition for us is Mashed Turnip & Potato and remains my favorite today as it sits in its place of honor on our holiday table. When Grandma was alive, Mama and all of the sisters/ my aunts (5 total) helped in sausage making. Also, I have Grandma’s recipe for Pepparkakor with directions from Mama to wrap a nylon stocking around rolling pin to keep the dough from sticking… At the age of 14, I found a book in the library–Papa’s Daughter by Thyra Ferra Bjorn–and my love affair with historical fiction blossomed into being. HAPPY HOLIDAYS HUGS! ❤

            1. Bette, it is lovely to learn about your Swedish heritage – if I’m right you’re half-Swedish! So your grandparents were your Mormor and Morfar and it is great you still know so many of the traditions. We (ie. my mother and son) make Pepparkakor every year – although I’ve never heard of the nylon stocking idea. We tend to rub our hands in flour and then across the rolling pin. It’s funny though, because all our relations in Sweden have long since stopped baking them and buying them instead in the shops! How wonderful that you found Papa’s Daughter book aged 14 and from there you were led by inspiration to write historical fiction. Thank you again for giving me a glimpse into your life. Fascinating and heart-warming.

  13. What a wonderful tradition filled with beautiful memories.
    Thanks for sharing these memories, the star in the window, and the hope with all those passing by…..Including all of us that enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Annika

      I did so want to share with everyone here, to bring a bit of light and joy into everyone’s day. The strength of traditions is not to be underestimated and this one is a beautiful one. Thank you so much for commenting Babs.

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