Getting Ready

I'm not a very religious person.
But I like to observe the Christian festivals as well as the old pagan festivals. I pick and mix my religion. 
Advent as I understand it is a time of waiting. Waiting for Christ's birth. It isn't supposed to be a time of celebration. Churches are not decorated for Christmas until Christmas, at least not the ones I infrequently visit. Advent is a penitential season not one of feasting and indulgence. I try (not very hard it has to be said) to remember this and to keep our meals relatively simple and frugal at least up until a week before Christmas.
We don't put our tree up until a week before Christmas either, and it's down on New Year's Day.
I also avoid shopping as much as I can during Advent. Truthfully this is because I hate the Christmas madness and junk that fills shops at this time of year but also because I think conspicuous consumption sits  uncomfortably with what Advent is meant to be for. But mainly the first reason.
And this is why I can smugly say 'I have finished my Christmas shopping'. Yep, all done bar a few bits and pieces which I will do tomorrow. Nearly all done online from the comfort of my sofa.
The goose is ordered, the pudding, cake and mincemeat are made. I think I'll put my feet up until Christmas Eve :o)

Today I have been renovating our Advent calendar. I made this about five years ago in a fit of creativity and craftiness. It is from a pattern in a book and not from my own brain. The lovely thing about this calendar is that it can be used from the beginning of Advent and not just the beginning of December. The two things are not the same. This year Advent is quite long -27 days because Christmas falls on a Saturday. The longest it can be is 28 days. This coming Sunday is the first day of Advent so I needed to overhaul the calendar this week.

Close up you can see the glue smears and blu-tak smudges, the rips and creases.

Some of the windows needed re-glazing.

This is the back.

And this is the front with all the shutters blu-takked on. They can be opened in any order but we always start with the top centre one and of course finish with the Nativity scene in the middle. The children take turns to open them. They seem to like it despite its lack of chocolate. When did it become mandatory for there to be a payment of chocolate for each window opened? 

We stand it on our fireplace (the place where we could plug in an electric fire if we had one) with a lamp behind it.

This is a photo from last Christmas. I shall try and get a better one this year.

 This is the book from which I got the pattern. Making the calendar was something of a labour of love.
You can find All Year Round here.

If you are wondering what the gnomes are doing there they are representing the mineral kingdom which is one of the four kingdoms of nature (the human, the animal, the plant and the mineral) according to Waldorf-Steiner philosophy. The kings are not there because they were not present at the Nativity.


  1. Anonymous3:37 pm GMT

    Hi Sue,

    At last I can comment. I must say I love reading your blog and check nearly every day for updates. Do please keep it up.


  2. Oh Sue that's beautiful. x

  3. I like what you're doing here. I must say I'm not religious at all, so for me, it's just a countdown to Christmas, which is a family celebration, nothing more to it really. Just a time to all get together, eat nice food and see people we don't get to see often. We won't be having a calendar as such, but you'll have to wait a few more days to see what I'm up to!

  4. That's a beautiful advent calendar! (I want to make one!)

  5. Lovely calender Sue and very informative post - I didn't know about Advent at all I just persumed it was from the 1st December! I am glad to hear of someone else who takes their tree down relatively early - I just like to start the New Year with a lovely clean house, bowls of bulbs and Christmas firmly put away until next year! New beginings and all that!!

  6. Sue, Sue, Sue - I'm so impressed with your Advent Calender :0)
    I don't usually buy an Advent Calender, but we did have a Lego one last year, which Violet's dad loved.
    It's now time to put your feet up - you're Xmas preparations are all complete. Thank goodness for internet shopping.

  7. I'm not religious either, in fact the whole thing is beginning to make me rather grumpy, with all the constant advertising on the telly, the various xmas CD's suddenly brought out by people you've never heard of, and the heaps of food you're supposed to buy. I'm even thinking of doing away with another commercial money-making scheme, ie the sending of numerous cards to numerous people we never see from one year to another. I do agree that it's nice for a good family get together however, and nice to give a pressy to your loved one or ones, but just because you love them, not because you're celebrating a dubious birthday from thousands of years ago! I do love your advent calendar though, if I still had small kids I'd make that for them...they're now old enough to do it for themselves..... Maybe that's why I'm grumpy!

  8. It's really beautiful Sue xox

  9. Wow, that advent calender is amazing, really beautiful! I saw similar stained glass paper cut-outs at my local Steiner school Christmas fair but nothing near as wonderful as yours! I'm planning on making little vignettes with my children so this was lovely to see. How wonderful that it has lasted 5 years too.

  10. I love your Advent calendar. I used to make my own when I was a child using old Christmas cards but this is very pretty.

  11. Your calendar is beautiful, and I love that you can use it again and again.
    Am impressed that. You can avoid street shopping at this time of year. If only work didn't get in the way. Internet here I come

  12. Hi Sue , love your Advent caendar and your interesting Advent facts .I hate the shops at this time of year too. I've done most of my shopping on-line, just the youngest to sort out:0)
    Jacquie x

  13. Anonymous10:58 pm GMT

    A smug reader comments!..yes me too. All Christmas shopping is done so I and my daughter can relax and the grandchildren can miss all the crush and bustle...apart from a drive round the shops to see all the Christmas lights nearer the time.
    Ooops well I have just ordered the lovely book mentioned here.
    What a beautiful advent calendar and so much more meaningful than the off the peg chocolate ones.

  14. Anonymous9:10 am GMT

    Good simply calender, simple always wins the day in my book. I think my preference is to celebrate the ancient angle pagan turning of the days from shorter back to longer festivities highjacked by Christ-mas. Oh and open up that fire place, nothing like the smell of a wood fire, good blog, seasons greetings


  15. Pati from London10:04 am GMT

    What a lovely advent calendar!!! I love Christmas and love decorating the house for it. Perhaps because my kids are little, we put the tree up from the beginning of December until the beginning of January. It looks cosy and my girls love it! I'm a bit religious (only a bit) and think that this festivity has become a little bit too commercialised these days (like a lot of things). It's a pity but I love the fact that it is about being with family and friends, spending peaceful days, sharing laughter and love and rest at home. Pati x

  16. Anonymous11:20 am GMT

    I love this post - it's very easy to get caught up in the spend, spend, spend mentality of Christmas.

    I normally have all my shopping done by December 1st...but not this year. It then means that you can go 'shopping' in central London and just look at the windows and the lights, and enjoying a Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks (I know that's controversial but I love them!).

    Here in Geneva nearly all the shops sell traditional advent calendars with religious pictures. They're really lovely and remind me of when I was little. I don't think i had a chocolate advent calendar until I was about 14 when my Mum caved under the pressure!

  17. That's seriously the most innovative advent calendar I've seen. How beautiful!

  18. I have been admiring this advent calendar in my copy of All Year Round for about 5 years and haven't been brave enough to make it yet. Now I have seen your beautiful calendar I am definitely going to have a go for next year.
    Thanks for the nudge ;o)

  19. Beautiful! I just love this. I enjoyed this whole post. I really dislike how everyone is jumping into Christmas earlier and earlier. What a burnout and where is the sacred feeling of what should be a holy-day?
    Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Agree! I think it's very confusing for kids to move the "season" up and hard on the parents!

  20. Really LOVE the inspired Advent Calendar. I learned about Advent and another way of celebrating the season in Switzerland when I was a sixteen year old exchange student there. We had an Advent wreath and lit a candle each Sunday in Advent.We spent the afternoon working on making presents often accompanied by some one playing music. It was not unlike being pregnant,waiting, gestating and knitting for the baby.Of course I didn't have that view at sixteen! You would also go to the Market in town in the evening which was often lit by candles and had musicians and gifts to buy. At school we made two to three different kinds of cookies in cooking class that we put away to divide up the last week. Butter cookies get better over time. I think it is so important for children to experience the natural rhythms of the seasons of light and dark and coming together with family and friends. I also love the idea of the angels coming closer to Earth during the season or perhaps spirits of loved ones who have passed hovering around during the Advent time of preparation for a new birth and joy.

  21. Anonymous6:12 pm GMT

    Lovely! Thanks for sharing your Advent calendar.



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