Tag Archives: Advent

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Fourth Sunday of Advent… Nearly Christmas!

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Wishing you a peaceful and happy second Sunday of Advent! xx

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Wishing you a happy first Sunday of Advent!

It’s officially the festive season! HOORAY! And our rejuvenated advent wreath is looking fabulous. Hope you’re all doing great and singing lots of carols. I know I am, LOL! ūüôā ¬†XX

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Restoration Woman: Project Advent Wreath

Next week marks the beginning of the Advent season, the countdown of the last four Sundays before Christmas. I grew up with the German¬†tradition of lighting a candle on an ‘Advent wreath’ on each of these Sundays until all four candles¬†would be¬†lit. The lighting ceremony usually involved a darkened room, Christmas carols, hot chocolate, and biscuits, and¬†this really ‘made’ the season for me as a child.

I’ve continued this custom here in the UK with the help of a genuine, bona-fide Advent wreath made by the good people in the Harzgebirge (a region famous for making Christmas decorations) and exported to London. I purchased that wreath some sixteen years ago in a bucket shop selling cheapie TVs (probably off the back of a lorry! Goodness knows what possessed the owner to stock Advent wreaths as well unless… they fell off the back… ah, never mind, better not ask) on the Tottenham Court Road.

I’ll never forget the day, simply because I was so delighted with my find. It was a Friday, and it was pouring with rain. I was on my way home from work, en route from Piccadilly (whence the office was based)¬†to my shared flat in Covent Garden via Tottenham Court Road and the local supermarket. It was pouring with rain and for some reason, a display in the back of that particular¬†store caught my eye. I couldn’t quite believe it: Advent wreaths, in a TV shop. The real thing! Complete with candles! Only in London, right?

I stormed in, expecting¬†the treasure¬†to be ludicrously expensive and thus out of my financial reach but oh, oh! It was only ¬£3.00. Yes. Three pounds. THREE! Needless to say, I bought one, even though perhaps it wasn’t completely to my taste. But that didn’t matter, it was the real thing, and it would light my days.

I knew that I would be spending Christmas in London in my dismal shared flat, although not entirely alone because two friends (yes, that would be you, Karen McL and Patricia O!) were also ‘stuck’ in Blighty, and we had decided to have a jolly Christmas together, us three expats. And the wreath… well, it doubled as a Christmas tree.

Last year's wreath in its full (and final) glory....

Last year’s wreath in its full (and final) glory….

Since then, the wreath has come out every year to brighten the season. It moved house with me, and later my husband and kids, no less than a dozen times!

However…. Sixteen years later, I have to confess, I grew a little tired of the battered old pine cones and tacky bows. This past weekend, my hubs, the kids and I embarked on a restoration project to breathe a new lease of life into this wreath. Okay, I admit it: we tried on numerous occasions to replace it; we¬†even placed an order with a local florist three times to get a ‘real’ wreath, but all efforts failed. So this year… we’ve made it happen on our terms. What do you think?

In the harsh day of light... the old wreath looks a bit tired and dated, don't you think?

In the harsh day of light… the old wreath looked a bit tired and dated.

 

The most painful part of the operation done: gone are the bows and some of the worst cones. Stripped, bare, ready for makeover!

The most painful part of the operation done: gone are the bows and some of the worst cones. Stripped, bare, ready for makeover!

Ingredient 1: Flowers

Ingredient 1: Flowers

Ingredient 2: New cones, apples, and snowy pine needles...

Ingredient 2: New cones, apples, and snowy pine needles…

Ingredient 3: Holly. Let there be holly!

Ingredient 3: Holly. Let there be holly!

Ingredient 4: Four fat candles!

Ingredient 4: Four fat candles!

And finally: restored to new glory... the new Wells Advent Wreath!

And finally: restored to new glory… the new Wells Advent Wreath!

Do you have any Christmassy traditions from your childhood that you cling to, come what may?

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Wishing you a peaceful and blessed fourth Sunday of Advent… Nearly Christmas now!

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Ho Ho Ho: Happy St Nikolaus Day

It’s Nikolaus day!

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Even though I live in the U.K., I like to celebrate St Nikolaus day with my children in the same way I would were we to live in Germany. I grew up with the tradition of putting my welly boot outside the front door during the night of 5 December, in hopes that St Nikolaus¬†would stop by on his sleigh and drop off some sweets and perhaps a small present. Last night, my kids put their wellies by our fireplace¬†alongside a little treat…

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…and hoped for the best. Inevitably, they watched out of the window half the night to see if there was a sleigh, or even simply sleigh marks on the lawn (there’s no snow, so the sleigh marks would be pretty spectacular!). Inevitably, they rose even earlier than normal to race downstairs and see if the mysterious, red-coated Saint had indeed made the journey and….

Success. It’s such¬†a joy to see their little faces aglow and it sweetens the Advent season and waiting for Christmas no end (pun intended).

My favourite memories of St Nikolaus day? Well, I have two. On one occasion, St Nikolaus didn’t just bring sweet treats, but actual snow. So much so in fact that the primary school closed and Mum took me sledging. A magical day!

The other occasion is even more mysterious. I six and was just beginning to doubt the veracity of the man and the event, but I wisely held my tongue. (Amazing how kids have an innate ability to sit on the fence when it comes to sweet traditions, right?) Well, that night, a book appeared¬†alongside the sweets in my welly. A dedication had been written in the book ~ it said, “From the Unknown Nikolaus.” I was unbelievably excited and the provenance of the book remained a mystery. Today, I have an idea, of course, but I still remember the magic and the excitement.

Do you celebrate St Nikolaus Day? Or do you perhaps have another tradition to brighten the long wait for Christmas?