Take hope, the official count down to the days getting longer has begun. Perhaps you, or a little person near you, peeled open your first card window of treats today. Traditionally advent actually starts four Sundays before Christmas. Advent literally means “coming” in Latin, the season journeying towards the shortest day of the year and in the Christian tradition the arrival of “the light of the world” incarnate in a holy baby, Jesus. From Winter Solstice on December the 21st we are heading towards Spring as the days start to lengthen; a new life, the start of a new cycle of seasons and renewed hope from the darkness.
Supposedly, the advent wreath harks back to times when people would bring their cart wheels indoors during the winter, to protect them from the wet and cold and they would be decorated with foliage and candles, wheels suspended from ceilings would become make shift chandeliers.
I like to honour the tradition of counting towards the light, starting with a walk in the garden to gather materials for a wreath. Hoops of willow twisted and platted with pine branches and sprigs of red rosehips, hawthorns and rowan berries from the garden. Moss, bay leaves and holly are also good greenery. Laid on the table I tuck five candle holders in the foliage, for five beeswax candles, one to light at lunch on each of the four Sundays before Christmas and the fifth for Christmas day itself. Each Sunday the glow of beeswax candlelight grows as an additional beeswax candle is lit, willing the days longer, pushing at the black, until the light overcomes the dark and we are heading towards Spring.