Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Friday, 3 December 2010


Christmas is in the air. The temperature is chillier, the snow is on the ground, there are wreaths decorating the lamp posts down Main St. in Alfred...and this is the last week of classes! My sister, Julia, is celebrating the Christmas season on her blog, by blogging about the 12 days of Christmas. This week marked the first week in Advent. This year, the first Sunday of Advent fell on November 28 and for those of you who use advent calendars, Wednesday marked the opening of the first little 'window' on the advent calendar. In our family, the first Sunday of Advent was a marker of the Christmas Season. We would attend the advent service, full of beautiful choir singing and candle-lighting in our local cathedral... and we would construct an advent wreath. Traditional advent services generally consist of the choir moving in procession around the cathedral. The church is usually only lit by a few candles, and the congregation are given candles to light, progressively, so that at the beginning of the service, the church is in darkness, but by the end, everyone is holding a lit candle. This light symbolically refers to Christ's first coming--his birth, which is what we celebrate at Christmas. Similarly, the advent wreath follows this understanding of Christ as the light.

{from Moose Meadows Farm}
An advent wreath is a wreath of evergreens (usually) with five candles that follow the four weeks in advent in the liturgical calendar, with the fifth candle being lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (although some advent wreaths only have four candles). There is a variety of symbolism in relation to the advent wreath, but each candle is usually lit following a reading of a biblical passage, and the candles sometimes vary in colour, which have symbolic meaning. Although interpretations of what each candle means vary, the candles in general, usually have a christological significance. The circle of the wreath symbolises God Himself, His eternity and His endless mercy, without beginning, nor end. The green of the wreath represents our hope of newness, renewal and eternal life. Finally, the light of the candles signify the Light of God that came into the world through Christ to bring newness, life and hope.
The advent wreath is not a modern invention. Its origins are unknown, but it is generally assumed to have begun as a German tradition, and we know that advent wreaths existed in the Middle Ages. By 1600 both Catholics and Protestants used advent wreaths.
When we decorated ours, we would usually take some pine or holly and weave branches together on a silver tray, in a circular form. Then we would use four candle sticks in a circle, with the fifth in the middle.
You could really use any hanging wreath and lay it flat, placing candles in between.
I particularly like this simple twig wreath featured on design*sponge by Emily Thompson:
Or how about this beautiful silver ball wreath? :

{from West Elm, photo from Inspire Bohemia blog}
{Martha Stewart online has a variety of wreaths and instructions on how to make them}
Another tradition in our family is the advent calendar. As kids, we'd have to rotate opening: each day one sister would have her turn  (4 days was a long time to wait with 4 sisters!). My Mum still keeps up the tradition even though we are all old and grown--she sends each of us an advent calendar in our five corners of the globe: Vancouver, Toronto, Ecuador, Mexico, and New York State. While my sisters all have little ones (which makes the tradition seem even more special) I still wake up every morning in December excited to open up the next window!
Here's a photo of the one my Mum sent this year (note the snow in the background-from my window):

Here are some great  ideas for making your own advent calendar:

{from papier valise}
{this idea is from Cassini's book Vintage Treasures, featured on urban debris

{these ones can be printed. They are done by an illustrator and designer in the Netherlands, who sell their stuff under the name of Homemade Happiness.}

{from urban debris}

{This lovely calendar used to be available on pilosale. Image taken from urban debris}
 Check out these vintage advent calendars that are particularly adorable:
{These two are taken from 1950s ataomic ranch house}

{This vintage Christmas card has this vintage advent calendar (below) inside! from Maia's Twinkle Miniatures, on Etsy}

As a kid I always loved the ones that would open up.
{You can buy this one for $14.99 on ihop, closed (above) & open (below)}

{I like this Santa Claus where the cupboard doors open up--from Chronically Vintage)
{You can buy this one and the one below, for cheap on Craftsuprint}

{You can buy this funky vintage-looking advent calendar from the V&A shop online for 4 quid}


  1. Love the advent calendars.... my faves are any of the vintage ones, the little number-stamped bag-one, & the Cassini one. Maybe next year I'll get one per child!

  2. Then there'd be no fun/excitement of waiting to open up 'your' window!!!

  3. Lovely post and great traditions. I love your pink typewriter its amazing!! XxxX http://thesecondhandrose.blogspot.com/