|Nativity table begun!|
Celebrating the Nativity Fast, Feast and 12 days
The girls and I will be reading through the books of Luke and Acts in the mornings during the fast. And we're looking forward to praying the Advent Paraklesis at church on Wednesdays during the fast.
On St. Nicholas Day (Dec 5/6): Put out our shoes for St. Nicholas, and find them filled with treats in the morning. Later in the day we will put up our Christmas tree!
On St. Lucia Day (Dec. 13): Put up lights in the kitchen window to remember our saint of light. We'll also make Lucia buns to take and share at church.
The Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (Dec. 13): Get out our toy nativity set to play with as we approach Christmas. Our ongoing Jesse Tree activity teaches the meaning of this Sunday, so I'll briefly talk about this to the kids on the way to Liturgy. All the stories we've been reading point to Christ, listen to the hymns and readings today to see how many of the Old Testament stories you know!
Christmas Eve (Dec. 24): This year, we'll celebrate Christmas here at our own mission church for the first time. We're very excited about celebrating in our own town with all of our people (and about not having to drive late at night). The Liturgy starts late, after 10 PM - don't forget to take a nap!
On Christmas Day (Dec. 25): Find our baby Jesus in the manger! Open presents and eat sausage balls and other goodies! I've seen an old custom to eat your Christmas Dinner with straw on the table under a linen table cloth. I've always wanted to do that (how memorable for the children!) so maybe this year will be the year!
The Twelve Days of Christmas (Dec. 25 - Jan. 5): This is the time we usually spend with family, doing the laid back celebrating. We make sure to eat lots of goodies and do lots of singing during this time. We usually end up doing all of the Jesse Tree readings for this period all at once, and usually the night before Theophany.
New Years/St. Basil's Day (Jan. 1): We are often just getting back home from our travels. We'll enjoy a lazy day unpacking, and bake a vasilopita using my favorite recipe.
Theophany (Jan. 6): I love this service at church with the Great Blessing of the Water. We'll drink whatever Holy Water we have left and take our cleaned bottles to church to fill with new water. After Theophany, we'll put away the tree and clean house to get ready for our house blessing!
How beautifully the church calendar rolls around again and again. Thank God!