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How to mark Advent

November 29, 2009

First decoration, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.


I’m one of those superficial celebrators of Christmas. I love the music. I admire the sentiment. But as I get older so the prospect of embracing all of the terms and conditions associated with marking Christmas becomes ever more difficult. I’m sure things will change when I’m old, lonely and facing my impending death.

I get swept along by the Pagan aspects. I like the decorating of the tree. I adore bedecking the house with all sorts of nods to the festive season. I have been known to spend far longer than is healthy in the christmas shop of department stores. I spend hours going through recipe books dreaming up Christmas menus for events we’ll never host.

There’s no shame in that. I’m sure of it. Plenty of other people do it too. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a market for it.

This year however, I’ve hit upon a discovery. At the same time as questioning why I bother blogging at all (yet again), I’ve also realised that Christmas isn’t (and shouldn’t be) represented by the mad dash in the final few days before the big event. Instead it starts at the beginning of Advent. Yes, even I can’t believe how dim I’ve been over the past 37 years. This is, after all, why there’s a nod to Advent in Choral Evensong on Radio 3.

In the household I stayed in over the weekend, it’s customary to mark the beginning of Advent by putting up twinkly lights and a few decorations at the window. Sure, it’s something which appeals to the younger audience but still, seeing the decorations put up in that house and the surrounding houses made me think that actually, you know what, it’s OK for us to do the same.

Consequently, I’m delighted to make this announcement. Christmas has started in our household earlier than it ever has before with the appearance of a specially purchased stylised Christmas tree which now lights up our hallway.

This budget decoration will, from this moment onwards, always remind me of our weekend in Cologne when I learnt rather late in life just on what terms its acceptable to start Christmas earlier than two weeks before 25 December.


  1. I didn’t know it was a tradition but I’ve accidentally done something similar. The ‘net’ of flickering lights that during Christmas will curtain my front window are currently bundled into a heap in the otherwise unused fireplace, mimicking the sparkle of a real fire.

    Come the unfeasibly early dark nights, I find it comforting.


  2. cursedtea permalink

    the Yanks have y’all beat … they start the day after Thanksgiving … arresting the eyes with an overblown over twinkly ostentatious show of lights plastered all over houses, trees, lampposts … it really can be quite scary!!

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