Advent Traditions

“The way you celebrate Christmas can be a gift in itself,” said Fred Rogers, “handing on traditions that will give your child a feeling of continuity, comfort and joy in all the Christmases to come.” In American homes, common Advent traditions include wreaths, calendars and logs. Did you know about these European traditions?

• In Normandy, children used to set fires in fields during Advent. The flames killed caterpillar eggs and drove away rodents. The tradition reflected good conquering evil, just as God’s perfect Son rescues us from sin.

• On December 13, Scandinavian countries honor Saint Lucy (or Lucia), a third-century martyr who, according to legend, brought food to people in the catacombs during winter. For light — and to be able to carry as much food as possible — she wore a wreath of candles on her head. On St. Lucy’s Day, the oldest daughter gets up early and brings sweet rolls to family members. The tradition reminds Christians that Jesus is a gift of light and love for our dark world.