Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Prepare for a Holy Advent Series: Part 3

I have really enjoyed writing this Advent Series. I have shared a broad overview of ways to celebrate Advent with your family, traditions prayers and discussed devotions, music and much more. If you have missed any part of the series there are links below. Part 3 of this Advent series will focus on the O Antiphons also known as the Golden Nights. If you haven't had a chance to check out the first two posts you can find the links below:

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What are the O Antiphons?

The O Antiphons, also known as the Golden Nights begin on December 17th and end on December 23rd. Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a special name that came from the prophecies of Isaias and Micah. The titles of Jesus and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." Those titles for Christ are listed below with the dates they are celebrated on with ideas to make them special for you and your family. Something else that is important to mention is that these are called the Golden Nights because that is when they are meant to be celebrated. 

December 17: Sapientia
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!

I have read several blogs that suggest purchasing a book for their families that focuses on the churches teachings, ways to celebrate the Liturgical Year or other ways to bring the faith alive. I like this idea and I have purchased books in honor of this night. We have also set up special trips to the library on this day and we search for books together that we would like to read about the Advent season. This is also the night we complete our Christmas cards and share the knowledge of Christ's coming. 

December 18: Adonai
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

As a family activity we normally enjoy creating a gingerbread village and decorate individual gingerbread houses. I would like to start a new tradition this year where we "Tinsel" a home on this evening too. Essentially we would put a little basket together for a family somewhere in the area and leave it at their doorstep. I envision this basket being filled with a couple goodies and things that will represent Jesus and hopefully be reminders to whoever is gifted the basket the true reason for the season. This is also a great night to enjoy a fire! Especially with the reference to Moses since he came across of the burning bush.

December 19: Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

On this day I normally purchase a Poinsettia to represent the "root of Jesse". It is a beautiful flower and is a great representation of what is celebrated on this day. Root vegetables would make a great meal and maybe including some Root beer or Root beer floats would be a special treat the whole family would enjoy. 

December 20: Clavis David
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

I read somewhere that on this night that there was a monastic tradition on this night and the monk in charge of the wine cellar would provide a special bottle of wine to celebrate.Obviously I will be finding a special bottle to share with my husband on this night and I will open up some sparkling cider for the boys to enjoy! I have also seen a few other blogger families that enjoy a Key Lime Pie too! In addition to our special drinks, the kids will also be receiving their own special house keys this year. 

December 21: Oriens
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.

With all the references to light in this O Antiphon, we normally go on our annual Christmas Light viewing complete with everyone wearing their favorite pajamas, wrapped in a warm blanket and enjoying a hot cup of cocoa or apple cider. I have included scavenger hunts on our ride throughout the neighborhood to make things even more exciting too. We will also put a candle light in our window on this night as well thanks to this amazing article I came across the other day:

“Placing lit candles in windows arises from the British persecution against the Catholic Church in Ireland. Since the time King Henry II invaded Ireland in 1171, persecution against the Irish has existed. This persecution increased tremendously in the wake of the Protestant movement, especially under Elizabeth I and then Oliver Cromwell. The logic was simply this: the British conquerors were Protestant and the Irish people were Catholic; therefore, to totally subjugate the Irish people, the British had to crush their religion, and that meant crushing the Catholic Church…During Christmas, every faithful Irish Catholic family hoped to have a priest visit their home so that they could receive the sacraments and in return offer him hospitality. So they would leave their doors unlocked and place candles in the windows to signal a priest that he was welcome and would be safe. Sometimes, a single candle would appear in several windows, or three candles in one window, one each representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph.”

December 22: Rex Gentium
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

Since Christmas is approaching so quickly, this is the night I usually present the boys with their new Christmas outfits or additions to an outfit to make it look more presentable. This year both boys are in need of new dress shoes and a new shirt so they will get their clothes "fit for a king" this evening. Goalie will be singing in the children's choir and Little Man might be altar serving so I know they value wearing their Sunday Best. In addition to our tradition of new clothes, I have seen that it is common to celebrate with a crown cake or complete some crown crafts.

December 23: Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

If possible, I try to take the kids to see a LIVE Nativity on the last night of the O Antiphons. There have been times due to weather, illness or other things that kept us away from attending the LIVE nativity so the boys will make nativity puppets and act out the story. I feel like these kinds of activities really increases the amount of anticipation that the children feel waiting for the baby Jesus to arrive. It would also be a great day to go sit with the Blessed Sacrament for an hour since Emmanuel means "Christ with us". He is most definitely with us when we go to visit him in the tabernacle. 

If any of the names of Jesus seem familiar to you, the O Antiphons are the reason behind the lyrics to the Advent song, O Come O Come Emmanuel. At the end of your Golden Night celebrations, singing this song together would be a great way to bring things full circle. 

Looking for more ways to celebrate the Golden Nights? Check out the Resources below:

I am in the process of creating my very first O Antiphon House as we speak and I am revamping of Jesse Tree this year so keep a look out for upcoming posts sharing all about these great ways to keep Advent Holy. The final part of my Advent series will include an Advent Bucket List, Shopping Guides and talk about a few other ways to Prepare for a Holy Advent. How close are you to being ready for Advent? What is it you are looking for more information on? I'd love to help and I would love to hear what you think about the O Antiphons. I just learned about the Golden Nights about 7 years ago and fell in love with them! 

God Bless!


  1. Beautiful traditions! Thanks so much for sharing. Prayers for a blessed, peace-filled Advent.

    1. Thank you so much! I hope your Advent is blessed and peace-filled for you and your family as well!