Simple Ideas for a Meaningful Waldorf Advent at Home
Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Simple Ideas for a Meaningful Waldorf Advent at Home Advent is approaching! If you are looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Advent in your home without too many sugary treats or gifts, this blog will give you some Waldorf-based ideas.
If you don’t celebrate Christmas, but would like to bring an Advent tradition into your home, this blog is also for you. Many of these ideas could easily be adapted to celebrating the winter solstice, or used in December with no reference to Christmas.
Advent in Waldorf Schools
Advent is an important festival in Waldorf schools. Even though it comes from a Christian tradition, in Waldorf education, we focus on it as a reminder of light and love in the dark days of the year. Living on the west coast, with its many days of rain, celebrating Advent can be a lovely way to bring light and coziness to our short days.
In Waldorf schools, there are a number of Advent traditions. One, the Advent spiral walk, is usually practised in the lower grades. Here at Sunrise Waldorf School, Kindergarten and Classes 1-2 usually observe this tradition.
Advent spirals are usually held indoors. Teachers create a spiral shape on the floor with evergreen boughs, and darken the room. The children take turns to light a candle in a holder, then walk the curving path. They leave their candles in the spiral, then return to their seats. The lit candles decorate the spiral and brighten the room, creating a magical effect.
Another tradition is to light a candle at the beginning of each week of Advent. Some classes may display an Advent wreath, while others exhibit more elaborate nature tables.
There is a theme for each week. This Advent verse, often recited or sung in class, explains the themes:
The first light of Advent is the light of stone – Light that lives in crystals, seashells, and our bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants – Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts – The light of faith that we may see in greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind – The light of hope, of thoughts and deeds, The light of hand, heart, and mind.
Classes with nature tables add the appropriate theme to their displays each week: stones in the first week, plants in the second week, and so on.
All of these ideas can also be used at home. In this blog we explain how, and share some ideas for simple, Waldorf-inspired Advent calendars. There are many options available, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.
This is essentially a nature table, decorated for Advent. You can either decorate a nature table you keep year-round, or create one specifically for this occasion.
To make an Advent table, find a place in your home (a small table, part of a bookshelf, or even a windowsill) for your display. Then, slowly build it over the month of December, using the weekly themes mentioned earlier in this article: add stones in the first week, plants in the second, animal figurines in the third, and human beings last. You could include one or more candles, if you have the room, and light them on a designated day of the week.
Many families use wax or felted animal and human figurines made by their children. These can become treasured objects that are well-loved, and fondly remembered year after year. You can either add new elements to the nature table yourself at night-time (after your child is asleep) to create a sense of magic, or ask your child to help you add items to the table. Here is a charming windowsill example from the Explore and Express blog.
This is a simple way to bring light into the dark month of December. Buy or make a wreath that includes four candle holders. Light a candle each week in December, on a designated day of the week. On the first week, only one candle will be lit, by the fourth, all the candles will glow.
In a Waldorf home, the candles are traditionally lit after dinner, and the mood is kept quiet and reverent. People gather around the candles, then perhaps sing a song, and read a story.
Another option is to simply light candles, and enjoy them, without a wreath. Often, just turning out the lights in a room and sitting by the warm glow can be magical.
This photo, from the Freya-Sophia Waldorf store, shows a simple ring candle-holder that could work beautifully.
If you like the idea of an Advent spiral, you can bring this tradition home. Some people create spirals outside with stones, and others design them inside, marking the path with candles. This blog post from Sparkle Stories discusses how to build a spiral and use it.
For those who celebrate Christmas, here is an easy option without much preparation. The book The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Christmas Story for Advent has 25 chapters. Read one chapter each day, starting on December 1 for a no-fuss Advent.
If you like Advent calendars, there are many options. Calendars can be used to count the days until Christmas, Solstice, or another holiday.