The First Day of Advent

I can’t quite believe that Advent is here already. I had to count back the four Sundays before Christmas several times before I convinced myself that yes, the first day of Advent arrived yesterday!

I love the Advent traditions we have in our family. When my brother and I were little, my Mum used to make a different Advent calendar each year – she would buy a poster of a snowy winter village scene, cut out the doors and windows of the houses to make little paper folding doors, number them, and then glue a little picture behind each door (a teddy bear, a Christmas tree, a snowman).

The final touch was to cover the picture in glitter, and pin it up on the wall. Really, these Advent calendars were works of art. Every evening after dinner my brother and I would rush to the calendar, and take it in turns to find the right number, and open the little door to reveal the treasure behind.

When we got a little older, my Mum changed to a new Advent routine. Rather than a calendar, we had an Advent Branch. This was a large branch from the garden, sprayed silver, hung from the stair banisters, and strung with pretty fairy lights. Every night we would hang a new decoration on the Advent tree until by Christmas Day it was covered with beautiful objects, each one telling its own story.

We started out just hanging cut-outs from old Christmas cards, but over the years Mum has amassed a wonderful collection of ornaments, from the felt Christmas pudding containing a silver five-pence (my brother’s favourite), to the pink and red silk embroidered camel with beads and bells (my favourite), and the knitted penguin (my Dad's favourite).

To this day, my favourite Christmas family tradition is gathering on the stairs after dinner, opening the magic tasseled box to reveal the chosen decoration for the evening, and selecting the perfect place to hang it on the Advent Branch (amid much advice/derision from the family regarding the appropriateness of the chosen resting place).

So naturally this is a tradition that I repeat every year in our own Nest. I have my own growing collection of ornaments that I add to throughout the year, and my own little branch, which lives in the attic for eleven months of the year, but is brought out once a year and installed ceremonially on the round table in the living room:

The branch is wedged into a heavy Habitat glass vase, which is weighed down by two 1kg weights to keep it from toppling over. This year I covered the vase in some textured leaf paper from Paperchase:

So, here is the first ornament, which Andre chose for me to hang last night:

Yes, it’s the traditional carrot-carrying Christmas bunny. What, don’t you all hang a flower-sporting bunny on your tree at Christmas?

So every day during Advent I’ll be sharing the previous night’s Advent decoration as a bonus festive post :-)

I’ll be back tomorrow with the recipe for the Most Delicious Roast Lamb In The World – stay tuned!