Anticipation. To come. Arrival. If you want the short definition of advent, there you have it.
To us as Christians, the meaning of advent goes deeper. It’s a time to reflect and celebrate Christ, the Messiah, coming as a babe in a manger over 2,000 years ago to be our Redeemer. The true meaning of Christmas! We also anticipate His future arrival as the King of Kings, returning for His people to establish His eternal kingdom.
How do you explain all of that symbolism and theology to children? It doesn’t have to be complicated. You are probably celebrating advent without even realizing it, by doing things like attending church each Sunday leading up to Christmas, studying scriptures that are focused on the Christmas story. At home, while decorating, watching Christmas movies, etc., you’re often discussing the true meaning of Christmas with your children. If you do daily Bible readings with the family during December, don’t you usually choose verses related to the coming and birth of Christ?
If you want to be more intentional and create specific traditions for your children during the advent season, some of our staff shared ways they’ve found that work well with young children. The most common is the lighting of an advent wreath. The advent wreath itself, with each candle and its color symbolizing different aspects and scripture, can be a great teaching tool. But if you want a bit more, here are a few suggestions:
- Do some research to become more familiar with (and excited about) the advent season.
- Keep it simple. Here are advent scriptures you could read/memorize with your kids.
- Free, decorative printable cards for each day of advent can be found HERE and HERE.
- Four different fictitious, full of anticipation, books by Arnold Ytreeide. During each daily reading, your children will not only learn scripture and history leading up to the time of Jesus’ birth – they’ll beg you each morning to read the next story so they can find out what happens next!
- Fun books with a simple, yet truthful message for small children, like J is for Jesus.
The method or manner in which you celebrate isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you are taking the time with your children to create traditions that teach and point them towards the true meaning of Christmas. Those lessons will stick with them for the rest of their lives!