The Advent wreath

A simple way to explain Advent time , the meaning of the candles and prepare children for Christmas…and it is particularly good if Christmas happens…during the summer season!

One afternoon in November, mum was doing something that looked like a flower arrangement to put on the middle of the table. She had as well 4 or 5 candles, 3 of them were red, one purple and one white. She had some ivy, some pine twigs and some flowers from the garden.

– “What are you doing, mum?” – asked the boy.

– “I am making an Advent wreath”- se answered, whilst arranging the ivy and the pine twigs (the very same ones they collected together earlier that afternoon).

– “And what is Advent?” “Why a wreath?”

– “Advent is – she started – a very old tradition that started in Germany…

– “Where Grandma comes from!!! – interrupted the boy.

– “Yes, where Grandma comes from” – she answered and continued:

“It is an old tradition that comes from Germany, and it reminds us that we are approaching Christmas. In this way, we prepare ourselves for Christmas, lighting up one candle each Sunday, until, finally, on Christmas day, we light up the white candle, the one that goes in the middle, to remind us that Jesus was born”.

– “Ahhh….so that’s what it means?” That’s the reason why you have different colours?”

– Each candle has a meaning. The first candle we lit means Hope. The second one, means Faith. The third one, means Joy….

– “So Joy has a different colour?” – interrupted the boy.

– “Yes” – and she continued – “the fourth candle means Peace. And the last one we lit, the one in the middle, represents the birth of Jesus”.

– “But….Grandmother always had purple candles instead of red ones, like this ones!” – the boy pointed.

– “I know… – said mum. I do not have purple candles, I only have red ones, a White one and a purple one. In any case the idea is to build it and remember what it means”.

– “¿But mum, why are you using ivy, pine, flowers…they are going to die with this hot weather!!”

Mum smiled.  

– Using leaves and twigs and flowers, everything that is green, means life. From where your Grandmother comes from, Christmas time is winter time, so it is very cold, dark and you can hardly see any green…apart from pine trees and some bushes…here it is almost summer…so if the flowers and twigs wither we should go and pick up some fresh ones to replace them!”

– “¿And why a wreath?”

– “Because the first wreath was actually a cartwheel…”

– “Wow” It was huge then!!” – exclaimed the boy.

– “Yes. When this tradition started, it was the only thing they found that would be big enough to accommodate 24 candles, because back then they lit one candle a day….As the tradition went on, people started to twitch and twist so everybody could have their own ring, their own wreath …can you imagine if we had to put together a cartwheel? ¡It would not fit!”

– “Hmmm…. They could have chosen a square…. a rectangle…” – said the boy , pensive.

– “The circle, the ring, has a meaning as well. It means something that is never-ending, that does not have a beginning or an end, like Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace.”.

– “It is like this” – said the boy. And he gave his mum a hug.

– “Yes, just like  a hug” And she hug him back.

Advent wreath, November 2020, Spain

Your vision…

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.

Who looks outside, dreams.

Who looks inside, awakens.

Carl Jung

Tu visión será clara cuando mires en tu corazón.

Aquel que mira hacia afuera de él, sueña.

Aquel que mira hacia dentro de él, despierta.

Carl Jung

Somewhere in Cercedilla, Spain. July 2020.

This is a classic!

Photo by Hakan Erenler on Pexels.com

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle;

and the life of the candle will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by being shared.

The Buddha

Miles de velas pueden encenderse con una sola vela;

esto no disminuye la vida util de la vela.

La felicidad nunca disminuye cuando se comparte.

The Buddha

N.B.

I wrote as a title “this is a classic” because I have read this phrase so many times in different occasions, places and languages that I feel it is a classic that we do not put enough attention to.

I feel that happiness is not something we would divulge so openly; or it is something we would not dare to show openly just in case someone gives us “the look”. I remember clearly sharing my happiness when I found out about the resolution of a very punctual event in my working life and not too many people understood or was open enough to understand my happiness and to accept my humble gift of sharing it. Only my true friends smiled and were as happy as I was. Happy for me, happy for the happy ending.

Everybody else, just looked at me in a sort of pitiful way. Why is it that everybody hear the struggles and bad news and when finally those struggles disappear and you are happy or relieved, then they look at you as if you were mental? I honestly don’t get it. But if you share cakes and drinks, most likely everybody will turn to it and celebrate with you.

In any case, I still share my happiness. I share it with those who count, with those who like to receive an intangible gift.

N.B.

Escribí como título de este post “Un clásico” ya que he visto y leído esta frase tantas veces y en tantos lugares, idiomas y ocasiones que siento que ya se ha hecho un “clasico” al cual no le ponemos demasiada atención.

Siento que la felicidad, el sentimiento de estar feliz en un sentimiento que no nos arriesgamos en divulgar de una forma abierta , por las dudas a ver si alguien nos dá esa mirada como queriendo decir “está loco”.

Recuerdo claramente en una situación muy puntual en mi trabajo; después de mucho ajetreo finalmente me enteré que todo había terminado bien (mas que bien!) y compartí mi alegría de que el trabajo que había hecho había salido bien, hubo una buena resolución.

No todo el mundo con el que compartí esta alegría estaba lo suficientemente abierto a recibir mi humilde regalo de alegria que yo estaba queriendo compartir. Sólo mis verdaderos amigos se alegraron conmigo y estaban felices como yo. Felices por el buen resultado, felices por mi felicidad.

Todos los demás? Esos me miraron con esa mirada lastimosa. Me pregunto porqué la gente siempre escucha los problemas y las malas noticias y cuando uno cuenta que esos problemas se han resuelto, que ya no hay malas noticias, que ya estás mejor, feliz , mas aliviado, te miran como si estuvieras loco? Honestamente no lo entiendo. Eso si, si uno repartiera bebidas, tortas y canapes, la gente pega media vuelta y festeja con uno.

De cualquier manera, yo sigo compartiendo mi alegría. La comparto con aquellos que valen, que cuentan, con aquellos que quieran recibir un regalo intangible.

Did you not know…

Wiltshire countryside, September 2016

Did you not know

that at the edge of a deep valley

there is an excellent pine tree

growing up straight

in spite of the many years of cold?

Keizan Zenji

Es que no sabías

que al borde del valle

hay un excelente pino

creciendo derecho

a pesar de sufrir el frío

durante tantos años?

Keizan Zenji