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Beyond the Lone Islands

Monday, 23 November 2009


Next Weekend is the first of the four Advent Sundays leading up to Christmas. I'm not sure how important the time of Advent is in other countries, but it Sweden it is Big. After dark, gloomy and usually rainy November, we are desperate for colour and lights and anything that brings a sense of warmth, and we make the most of it; the churches as well as the tradesmen and the media.

If you've been following my blog over the past month, you may remember that Halloween/ All Saints Day with us is a rather solemn holiday almost all about graveyard decorations...

... But the very day after All Saints Day, i.e. Sunday 1 November, this was what met my eye when I entered the supermarket:

I usually try to ignore these guys at least until a week or so before Christmas, but it's not easy - they're everywhere...

Preparations continue all around. November has become a sort of pre-advent to Advent. Last week, they put up the big Christmas tree in the town square:

Nice one this year, with a lot of cones:

The lights weren't put up in the tree yet when I was there with my camera (Friday).

This week I'm going to get wrapped up in preparations myself, because I too want everything to be ready before the 1st Advent weekend. Well - the things that in my opinion should be ready by then. That does not include full Christmas decorations, but it does include the window lights and Advent stars, and the lights on the balcony, and changing curtains in the kitchen and some table cloths, and the special Advent candle holder with four candles. (We light just one of them on the first Sunday, then two, then three, four.) Personally, I like the time of Advent more than the actual Christmas. Not too fond of the extra rush in the shops, but these days I don't have too many people to buy presents for. But I like the lights, and the hymns that are only played this time of year (played in church, or at home - not as background supermarket music...), and Christmas cards, and...

At the same time, this year, Christmas will be hard, because it will be another "first" traditional family holiday to get through without my mother (who died in May). Whatever we do to try to make it as normal as possible for my dad - it won't be normal.

PS. Tomorrow (Tuesday) there will be a somewhat unusual Christmas tree on show in my Picture Book.



GB said...

You have just brought a whole new dimension to Christmas. I became very disillusioned with the commercialisation of what was, to me, a Christian festival. I've never really been a Christmassy person ever since. Now I can see that, for many, the sheer colour and brightness can lift the spirits.

I've never seen winter in that way. To me winter was (it's 4 years since I experienced one)a time to draw in the horns, cosy up and do winter things. Given the almost absence of night in midsummer on Lewis and about 7 hours of daylight in midwinter I used to get lots of winter things done.

jeannette stgermain said...

Advent is hardly celebrated here. And I think many do not even know what it means. In Holland there was at least some mention of it on the 4 Sundays before Christmas, and candles were lighted, etc.
You are right, the first major holidays with the loss of a loved one may be extremely hard. Just letting the grief come up is the best way to del with it:)

Scriptor Senex said...

Advent is a non-event here as well, except to those who are involved with the church. We have Advent calendars but they are just an excuse to open a window (or get a little sweet) each day as a build up to Christmas.
I hope you and your Dad find a way through the celebrations.

womanwisdom said...

advent is indeed a very important celebration here in the Philippines. it is in anticipation of the coming of the Christ, the firstborn of all. we also have a nine-day novena of Masses starting Dec 16 and ends on the 24th. these are dawn masses that begin at 4am! i will post more about Christmas in my country this week.

you have a beautiful blog! as i said in your other blog, i do love cs.lewis too.

i do know how you feel, to lose a loved one, your about this time last year, my father passed away, nov 27. it is difficult, but we just have to accept life's mysteries...and God's beauty in the midst of all these..

go gently through life...warm smiles from these islands!


DawnTreader said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Sweden these days is not a very religious country, and all our holidays indeed rather commercialised. My guess is a lot of people don't have the slightest idea of the meaning of Advent as in waiting for "the coming of Christ", but we still (more or less) celebrate it; as I said, if only to brighten up the midwinter darkness. I will be returning to bits and pieces of our traditions in the next few weeks.

Dr.John said...

I like the fact that in Sweden Advent is important. In this country only people who go to liturgical churches even know we are into the season of Advent.


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