It's been forever since I last posted, but for good reason. We've been busy finishing up our study of Ancient Rome (thank goodness!), deep cleaning and re-organizing the entire house, planning for Advent, and planning our study of the Middle Ages.

For Advent this year, we'll be focusing on the history of Christmas traditions. This worked out especially well since many traditions date back to the Middle Ages or before. An amazing overview of Christmas in the Middle Ages can be found in Medieval Celebrations: How to Plan for Holidays, Weddings, and Reenactments With Recipes, Customs, Costumes, Decorations, Songs, Dances, and Games by Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly (a preview of the chapter "Christmas Celebrations" can be found here.) The book Christmas in Ritual and Tradition by Clement A. Miles has also been very helpful and informative; The Catholic Christmas Book by Father Francis Weiser is on my wish list.

For the first time ever, I've typed up all of my Advent plans and put them in a binder, neatly organized by daily tabs. Each day's section includes supplemental stories, recipes and craft ideas and the dividers are collaged with pictures appropriate to the day's focus. I worked on much of it this weekend while I was down with the flu, so I can't say that I'm thrilled with the results, but it's certainly better than nothing!

For general Advent planning, I found the following websites helpful:

I am especially indebted to Jennifer Miller for her wonderful series of Advent posts this year. In particular, her 2009 Advent Catechesis post has been very helpful. We'll be following her Advent reading plan with only some minor modifications, in addition to Jesse Tree readings and an assortment of daily picture books and stories.
Now, for this week's plans:

Life of Saint Lucy [Ælfric’s Lives of the Saints]

As I'm working on some last minute preparations for Advent, I thought I'd share our plans for Santa Lucia Day, the Feast of Saint Lucy, on December 13th. This will be our first year celebrating the feast, but it's a wonderful tradition that I'm excited to establish!
On the morning of Santa Lucia throughout Sweden, the eldest daughter in each household comes to her sleeping parents, dressed in a long white gown with a red sash, and wearing a crown of lingonberry leaves in which are set seven lighted candles. In her hands she carries a tray of steaming hot coffee, Lussekatter (Lucia buns) and Pepparkakor (ginger cookies). The procession includes her sisters and brothers (the star boys or stjärngosse) also dressed in white, holding lighted candles, and singing of the light and joy of Christmas. The sisters of the Lucia Bride wear a wreath of tinsel in their hair and a piece tied around their waist, while the boys have tall pointed caps sprinkled with stars. Awakened by the lights and the singing, the parents arise and eat the breakfast served, thus ushering in the Christmas season. (Source)
Our celebration has evolved into a two day study of Scandanavian folk traditions.
After Mass on Sunday, we'll be having family over for coffee hour. Maddie will don a lovely vintage Lucia gown that I ordered from an Ebay seller in Sweden. She'll serve the traditional Lussekatter and Pepparkakor, as well as hot spiced cranberry juice and coffee or Glögg for the grown ups. Later, the kids and I will be listening to the CD, Lucia Celebration and Christmas in Sweden and reading from Lucia, Child of Light by Florence Ekstrand. The kids will color a picture of St. Lucy from Fenestrae Fidei and we may make Gingerbread Lanterns.
I had planned to follow As Cozy as Spring's adorable Lucia wreath instructions (the current issue of Living Crafts also has a great pattern), but Maddie very much wants a real Lucia crown (preferably with actual lingonberry leaves, but our lingonberry plants are still babies!). So, we'll be heading to Hemslöjd in Lindsborg in a few days to purchase one. Unfortunately, though I found these Starboy kits, the boys have no desire to dress up!
On the following day, we'll read Per and the Dala Horse and the kids will be painting their own wooden horses (we re-sized this pattern and cut them out of pine with the scroll saw). They've been facinated by Dala horses ever since we first encountered the Dalas of Lindsborg. Later, we'll be reading The Tomten and The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgren or Christmas at Tomten Farm by H. Wiberg and making a few Christmas tomte/nisse. For an afternoon snack, I'll be serving cookies cut into the shape of tomtes, foxes, dala horses, hearts and goats (see: Yule Goat).