Category Archives: Feast Days

Celebrating Advent :: New Additions to the Advent Book Basket

Throughout the years it has become a family tradition to celebrate Advent by feasting on a trove of picture books, (at least one for each day!), all while snuggled up in front of a fire in the family room.  Some of our favorited titles are becoming quite tired though,  so over the long weekend I spent some time at the library freshening up the Advent Book Basket with some new titles.

Here’s a peek at a few of the new books that will be awaiting the children each evening this year:

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The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola

Thanks to our local Librarian, (a lovely God-send who often pulls things aside for me), I stumbled across this lovely new title from Tomie dePaola. This book is newly published, (as of this October!) and like all of Tomie’s previous work is just beautiful–both in story and illustrations!

“This inventive and fresh Nativity story is told from a bird’s-eye view. On the morning of the first Christmas, the birds of Bethlehem gather in the fields–not only to eat but to share the exciting news. People from all over have descended on Bethlehem and an angel has appeared in the night sky. Something extraordinary is coming! The birds agree that they must find this wondrous thing, and off they fly to the stable where a child has been born.”

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The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park

This is another new title to our local library and I was happy to get my hands on one of the few copies in our city’s system. Along with the heartwarming story, the ending author’s note is a wonderful little history lesson that I’m sure will spur a rabbit trail in our house!

“The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. In it we meet a boy who is learning his father’s trade; a man who gathers resin from certain trees; a merchant in the marketplace; and three strangers in brightly colored robes who are shopping for a gift for a baby. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline with exquisite paintings, this simple, moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

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Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This is a sweet little picture book that I know my son will be fond of with all of the animals throughout. I’m sure he will be chanting, “It’s time! It’s time!” with the turning of the pages.

“The skies shouted it to the seas that thundered it to the waves that roared it to the great white whales that sang it to the starfish in the deep. And tiny sandpipers danced it on shining sands… ‘It’s time! It’s time!’ On one quiet night, creation whispered a secret. Grass and bees, robins and trees all spread the word. Sheep told their young while angels sang the song to the shepherds. Hushed news of a miracle echoed to the ends of the earth. The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived! Creation cried out in celebration, but only a few people heard. Only a few joined nature’s chorus, a song in praise of the newborn King.”

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Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo

This little book is a nod to my children’s German ancestry. I really enjoyed the interjected vocabulary and how Tante spends much time preparing for Christmas, (like Strega Nona in Merry Christmas, Strega Nona!), making it a perfect fit for Advent.

“Everybody loves Christmas at Tante’s. The old lady decorates a wonderful tree and makes certain to have something for all who come to visit, be it the nearby village children or the shy animals of the pine forest. The only creatures Tante overlooks are the spiders she has swept out of her cottage while cleaning. But the curious spiders want to come inside and see Tante’s tree, too. When a midnight visitor lets them into the old lady’s home, they unknowingly spin Tante the very gift she has longed for–a gift that has inspired the draping of tinsel on Christmas trees ever since.”

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You can find the other titles that will be placed around our hearth this year by visiting the archives.

Have you stumbled upon any new titles in preparation for this year’s Advent season? Please share!

 

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Celebrating Advent :: Preparing for the Christ Child

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In just a couple of weeks time, Advent will arrive!

Our family really enjoys this liturgical season in the Church. During Advent, my husband and I try our best to help our children prepare their hearts for the arrival of the Christ Child by keeping alive treasured family traditions and adding a new one or two each year. We also celebrate the lives of the saints whose feast fall throughout the season.

I have shared some of our family traditions here with you all before, and have noticed that searches through the archives for ideas for your own families have been occurring lately– I thought you all might appreciate being able to find them all in one place!

Below is a gathering, a feast of ideas, to help you along your faith journeys in your own homes. I hope they will bless in some way!

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Handcrafted Catholic Advent Calendar

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Advent Countdown Activity Calendar (PRINTABLE)

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Celebrating the New Liturgical Church Year (PRINTABLE)

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Advent Book Basket for Children (2011)

New Additions to the Advent Book Basket (2012)

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advent adult book basket

Advent Book Basket for Adults

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Catholic Advent Lapbook (PRINTABLE)

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St. Andrew Christmas Novena (PRINTABLE)

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November 30

Feast of St. Andrew

(Doesn’t fall in Advent this year–But still fun to celebrate!)

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Holy Heroes Advent Adventure

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December 6

Feast of St. Nicholas (2011)

Feast of St. Nicholas (2010)

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Letters from St. Nicholas (PRINTABLE)

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December 9

Feast of St. Juan Diego

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December 12

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Already have plans in mind for the Advent season? Share how you will celebrating with all of us in the comments!

On the Feast of All Saints

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In preparing for the arrival of November, on All Hallow’s Eve, after listening to The Tale of the Jack-O-Lantern, the children decided that instead of the usual jack-o-lantern carvings, that they would turn their pumpkins into Saint – O – Lanterns again this year.

They each choose a symbol of a special saint to adorn their pumpkins.

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Saint – O – Lanterns 2012

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Spider for Saint Conrad of Constance

My son choose the symbol of a spider, for Saint Conrad of Constance who is often represented as a bishop holding a chalice with a spider over it. The symbolic spider is reference to a legend that states how once when he was celebrating mass, a spider fell into the chalice. At that time, spiders were believed to be deadly poisonous, but Conrad nevertheless drank the wine, with the spider in it, as a token of faith–and he survived!

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Wolf for Saint Francis of Assisi

My daughter, remembering St. Francis’ feast day from earlier in the month, and her favorite story,  decided upon carving a wolf.  As legend states in Saint Francis and the Wolf, Francis was able to stop a terrifying wolf from tormenting  villagers by simply speaking of peace and forgiveness. The wolf turned from his wicked ways all because of this great Saint’s speech!

The next morning, in keeping with the tradition of celebrating All Saint’s Day in the church, our local homeschool group gathered together to share in the celebration of the liturgy with children adorned in their best saint costumes.

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I was fortunate to attend Mass this year with courageous St. George and sweet St. Clare.

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Pretty handsome, don’t you think?

St. George has long been adored by my son, (with his favorite picture book being Saint George and the Dragon), so it was not a surprise when he decided to dress as the Red Cross Knight for this special feast. Surrounded by a black cape from the dress up box, a swiped belt from Dad’s closet at his waist, Mom’s brooch pendant at his neck,  and the addition of a shield containing several Red Crosses– he was all set to play the part of St. George  for the day!

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The Prettiest Poor Clare you ever did see!

With St. Francis being a favorited saint in our home, so too is his sister in Christ, St. Clare. My daughter choose to represent the founder of the Poor Clares this year by donning a brown habit with twine at the waist.  She also carried a Monstrance and Rosary–symbols most often depicted in art along with Clare’s likeness.

Decked out in their finest saintly garb, the children looked forward to playing some saintly inspired games with friends after Mass, and of course loved to have the chance to take home candy prizes.

But instead of lugging around a plastic pumpkin or bag adorned with secular likenesses of Halloween to store their winnings, I wanted my children to have the opportunity to celebrate their faith and learn a little more about their chosen saints.  So, we decided to create their very own personalized bags to collect their All Saint’s Day treats in.

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With leftover packing boxes covered in brown craft paper, they set to work on creating their very own All Saint’s Day treat bags. A picture of their chosen saint, along with the saint’s symbol and a small prayer, were displayed on one side of the box, while the other displayed various depictions of saints in light and listed the name of the day’s feast.

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Their boxes were completed with the attachment of a twine handle that allowed them to be toted about to gather up candy and prizes during the afternoon’s festivities.

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All in all, they had a wonderful time and enjoyed spending the day in fellowship with friends, while remembering all of the humble saints that have come before them!

On the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord (FREE Printable Cut and Paste Craft!)

Yesterday marked the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord where we recall Jesus’ transformation upon Mt Tabor.

We celebrated this day in our home by wearing white and setting the dinning table with a white cloth to recall how Jesus’ “face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” ~Matthew 17:2

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With tradition holding that the Pope presses a bunch of ripe grapes into the chalice at Mass or uses new wine on this feast, our family chose to breakfast on biscuits as white as light with grape jelly, severed with a new bottle of grape juice, given the grapes significant prominence on this day.

We then moved on to reading about the Transfiguration from Tomie DePaola’s Book of Bible Stories which in turned sparked a discussion of just where this event took place.

Although only referred to as a retired mountain, I shared with the children how “tradition assures us that this was Mount Thabor, which is exceedingly high and beautiful, and was anciently covered with green trees and shrubs, and was very fruitful. It rises something like a sugar-loaf, in a vast plain in the middle of Galilee.” ~ Catholic Culture

The children then tried out their artistic hands as they colored in these coloring sheets from Mary.

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Bet you can’t tell which one belongs to which child!

They also played with a few worksheets centered around the day. My daughter enjoyed a word search and a word scramble, while my son enjoyed finding his way through the maze.

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Afterwards, my daughter practiced her handwriting by filling in the free printable Transfiguration of the Lord Copywork I created and shared yesterday.

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My son, not yet able to write at his young age, had the chance to practice his cutting skills!

Transfiguration of the Lord Cloud Preschool screenshot

Your children can have fun with this too! Just click the image to print without the copyright watermark!

Scripture states that upon the mountain, “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,* then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” ~Matthew 17: 5

Remembering this, I created five simple clouds each filled with a portion of Matthew’s verse.

My son was able to cut each cloud out and then was tasked with arranging them in the correct order after listening to the verse one more time.

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He then decided to adhere them to a sheet of construction paper along with his completed coloring sheet. He was very happy with the results!

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Then, after enjoying a mid morning snack of raisins, (again recalling the grapes prominence on this day), due to the frightening thunderstorm outside, our home lost power. I couldn’t help but chuckle since it was at night, in total darkness, that Jesus, Peter, James and John all ascended up the mountain!

On the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

It is not Christmas, but today that marks the day of our Lord’s incarnation! It is all because Mary said “YES!” that our Lord entered into this world as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God and fully Man.

I find the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord a beautiful feast to celebrate with my children, as it helps to begin the discussion about the sanctity of life.  Even at their young ages they are able to understand the value of a person from the moment they enter into this world all through our celebrations throughout the day.

The children woke to the dinning table dressed in blue and adorned with picture books awaiting perusal this morning.

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In Sweden, the Feast of the Annunciation (or Lady Day) is known as Vaffeldagen (Waffle Day) since they serve waffles on this day. Swedish waffles are usually made on heart shaped waffle irons, but any type will do. ~Catholic Culture

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In keeping with tradition, we began the day by enjoying waffles for breakfast.  Lingon berries, the traditional Swedish topping, are hard to come by around our parts so we settled for Alicia’s Mary cupcake toppers instead. And while we did not have a heart shaped waffle iron , the children didn’t seem to mind as they thought they looked rather festive and tasted delicious with maple syrup.

We then moved on to reading about Archangel Gabriel’s message to Mary in Tomie DePaola’s Book of Bible Stories and worked our way through Leading the Little Ones to Mary‘s little talks. (This book is a gem. It is a gently laid out series of conversations to hold with the preschool aged child all centered around the life of Our Lady and the formation of the faith from a lovely Catholic nun. Such a sweet book!)

After listening to the readings, we then discussed the Hail Mary prayer since the words we pray are those of Gabriel himself:

“And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” ~ Luke 1:26-38

While my daughter has long since memorized this prayer, my son is still learning. To help him along, today I introduced Elaine’s Hail Mary sequencing cards.

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He really enjoyed manipulating the cards to the correct squares along with the help of this coloring sheet which stated the words of the prayer below each depiction.

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Once he correctly matched all of the cards to the appropriate squares, he was rewarded with being able to color his page!

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For my daughter, while she did not need help on memorization, she did need some additional cursive handwriting practice.  Having finished her handwriting workbook just a few days ago, these handy Hail Mary copywork sheets from That Resource Site were a perfect substitution of her handwriting lesson for the day.

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Once her handwriting was completed satisfactorily, she then took delight in coloring in her own coloring page. This coloring sheet from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was reminiscent of the illustrations in Tomie DePaola’s Book of Bible Stories  and that of our re-purposed calendar page, which I thought was a nice touch to our day.

She did notice that there were some differences between the three illustrations, so once their coloring was completed, we then took a virtual field trip to explore the many artistic compositions of the Annunciation that have been created over the centuries.

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Utilizing all of the resources from The Text This Week, we were able to browse chronologically through the different schools of art from various artists. The children had a wonderful time with this picture study and loved being able to spot which angel was Gabriel by looking for his trumpet!

Depictions of the Annunciation also usually show St. Gabriel the Archangel handing lilies to Our Lady. Mary is often represented by lilies, and the Madonna Lily, named for her, is often called the Annunciation Lily in honor of this Feast and is a perfect ornament for the day. The Venerable Bede (A.D. 672-735) described the translucent white petals as symbolic of Mary’s pure body, and the golden anthers as a symbol of the glory of her soul when she was taken up to Heaven at the Assumption. ~Fisheaters

After seeing Gabriel holding lilies in multiple pictures, the children grew quite hungry as lunchtime was approaching. Using sandwich bread, cream cheese, cucumbers and carrots, I was able to transform these ordinary lunch items into St. Gabriel’s trumpets for lunch!

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Just before communing together for the noon meal, we paused to pray the Angelus together. This prayer to Mary is thought to be one of the first hymns of the church:

The Angelus Domini, shortened to “the Angelus,” is the ringing of the church bell — in three groups of three chimes with a pause in between each group, followed by 9 consecutive strokes — at 6AM, Noon, and 6PM roughly, and its associated prayers, which spring from the monastic practice of praying the tres orationes at Matins, Prime and Compline. While the monastics said their prayers at the sound of the Angelus Bell, the faithful would stop what they were doing and say 3 Hail Marys in honor of the Incarnation. Later, since at least A.D. 1612, verses were added to these Hail Marys such that we get the form of the Angelus we have today. ~Fisheaters

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Happy Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord!