Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Homemade Advent, Part 1

Advent seems to have come upon us quite quickly this year (as evidenced by the dearth of posts, we've found ourselves fairly preoccupied with the business of life this month), and it took the arrival of the first Sunday of Advent to spur me to some Advent planning for our little family.

The constraints (i.e. living abroad and being on a student budget) on any extravagant Advent and Christmas purchasing I might be tempted to contemplate, have paradoxically almost become conditions of freedom. In other words, these limitations have proven an opportunity for me to exercise a little bit of creativity and ingenuity, in contrast to the more prosaic exercise of simply buying something, as I embark on an adventure of a homemade Advent this year.

Part One: In Which The Advent Wreath Is Procured

I suppose "procured" isn't exactly the right verb in this instance - "constructed" might be more apt. In any event, this project was spurred on by my refusal to spend on anything I was fairly certain I could make myself. In consequence, the little one and I went out yesterday afternoon to gather our raw materials: dead, yet fairly pliable branches, an ample selection of pine boughs, abandoned pinecones, bright red berries, and some additional foliage for ornamentation.

The first step was to fashion a woven ring (of sorts) for the base. I had envisioned weaving my branches without needing to tie them together, but after the little one successfully demolished that attempt (while under the assumption that Mommy's project was obviously a frisbee), I resorted to a bit of brown yarn as fastening assistance.

The branches thus formed a base for weaving in the pine boughs. I started with the larger boughs at the bottom, and added judiciously as I worked upwards.

My next project was the procurement of candles. In this region of Austria, it seems to be traditional to use red candles rather than violet and rose for the Advent wreath, and thus the only Advent candle sets I could find in our local shops were red. While I contemplated simply "doing as the Romans do", I just couldn't manage to repudiate the years of my family tradition…so in the absence of any violet and rose candles for sale, I went white.

Well, not quite. I found some lovely white candles to use as a base, and then wound some violet and rose embroidery floss I happened to have on hand for the appropriate Advent colors. And what did I use for candleholders? Plastic schnapps glasses, obviously.

Below is the final result, finished with pinecones, berries, a bit of extra foliage, and a braided yarn bow, which will hopefully see us through this season of joyful anticipation. And though our little one is still a bit to small to manage blowing out the Advent candles after our daily prayers, he appreciates the candles, pinecones and berries!

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