|Swedish Christmas Advent|
Warming up for Christmas
By the end of November it is time for friends or colleagues to gather at a restaurant one evening for the "Christmas dinner table", a buffet combining traditional Christmas fare with the delights of the ordinary smorgasbord. In recent years too, the Christmas dinner table has become a popular attraction onboard the ferries to and from Finland, Germany, and Denmark.
In people's homes the approach of Christmas is signified, for example, by getting out the Advent candlestick, which is often a little box with four candle holders embedded in moss and lingonberry sprigs. The first candle is lit on the first Sunday in Advent and allowed to burn down by one quarter. Next Sunday it is time for the second candle, and so on, until by the fourth Sunday the first candle has burnt right down and the last one has been started. This is a peculiarly Swedish custom, but it was inspired by the
"Advent trees" of Germany and became widespread in the 1920s.
During Advent many windows are hung with an "Advent star", the original version of which, made of red paper, was introduced in the 1930s. Today one often sees more sophisticated versions of straw, wood shavings, or metal.
This custom also originated in Germany, but in recent years it has begun to be overtaken by the stepped candlesticks which also shine from the windows
of companies and institutions.
Germany also invented the Advent calendar, nowadays called the Christmas calendar and first introduced in Sweden in 1932. Later, with the production of tie-in programmers, first on the radio and then on television, sales of Advent calendars broke all records.
The celebration of Advent, then, is of fairly recent origin. It is only in our own time that church services on the first Sunday in Advent have joined the early morning service on Christmas Day in topping the year's attendance
figures. Common to many aspects of modern Advent celebrations is the part played by candles, and this is usually quoted to instance a 20th century "candle revival" with "living light" providing a counterpoise to the cold
lighting technology which, towards the end of the last century, superseded the old, mellower light sources.
Submitted by - Bella