Thursday, December 5, 2013

In Defense of Decorating for Christmas in Advent

I've read several articles recently that wag the (written) finger at those of us who decorate for Christmas right after Thanksgiving, accusing us of of crass materialism and a misunderstanding of the liturgical season. Not necessarily so.

The Church calls Advent:
  •  *a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered;
  •  *a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time.
Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation [Norms 39].


We put up the tree and decorate it; we change around pictures; we have lights everywhere; we get out all the Christmas books and movies and music; and we get out the three children's nativity sets and keep Baby Jesus in. Here's a description of what we do.

We work on memorizing Isaiah 9:6 and John 1:14 and praying our Saint Andrew novena. They play the nativity story all day long. We make a Maranatha poster. We go to Confession extra times and celebrate extra feasts for Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Nicholas. We give stuff away and make gifts for people we love. We attend Mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception and thank God especially for babies, our lives and His plans.

All in the glow of the Christmas tree, with Bing Crosby, Josh Groban, and Susan Boyle crooning the hymns and carols. Occasionally we break out into dance when I put in a celtic CD! The younger children ask all the time how much longer for Christmas and I tell the story over and over. And over.

It's our way of preparing, remembering, and directing ourselves toward Jesus in "devout and joyful expectation."


Oh and P.S. ~ our afterglow does last until Epiphany, when we have a final party, write thank you notes and take everything down (Glad I remembered to add this!).


  1. Happy St. Nicholas' Feast Day! "In Portugal, he is called Pier Natale, and if the children do not leave him sticks of butter he eats their toes while they sleep." .... or something like that, from the Saturday Night Live Christmas Special. :)

  2. Thanks for this. I think we can easily swing in one direction or the other. I tend to start my decorating slow, easing into the season at my own pace. I do resist getting things up too early, but it's a personal thing. We have two birthdays around this time too and I can only handle so much. But I also think we needn't wait until Christmas Day to get excited about the birth of Jesus, no more than we wait until any other birthing day to have all the showers and do preparation. Great perspective!

  3. We are like you--we decorate right after Thanksgiving and put out our Nativity sets with Baby Jesus and the 3 kings in place. And I have been feeling like (written) fngers all over the blogoverse are being wagged at us for doing it wrong. Thanks for a beautiful post showing that a Catholic home can be joyfully decorated well before Christmas, and that doesn't necessarily take away from the holiness of the Season! Merry Christmas!