Easy December Liturgical Living Ideas!
I am so excited for December this year! I know we’ve all been slogging along through a lot of really difficult stuff for most of this year, and I, like a lot of us, and sooo ready for lots of reasons to celebrate :)
December 1: OUR LADY HOUSE OF GOLD
While this specific title isn’t celebrated on this day (I actually couldn’t find a specific date for it.) I wanted to share about this particular title of Mary here in part because I have a collab inspired by this title going live today(!!!) but also because I find this particular title particularly relevant for reflection during Advent.
Mary’s title House of Gold reminds us of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament and the Tabernacle in current days. We are reminded of Mary’s special roll of carrying Jesus within her womb and especially during Advent as we prepare a space in our hearts for Jesus to enter into.
I’m praying for you all during this Advent season, I hope that this year it is fruitful and filled with much joy and anticipation!
December 6: St. NICHOLAS
Patron of: Bankers and Pawnbrokers
A little bit about St. Nicholas:
- St. Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor.
- Despite his popularity, not much is known about St. Nicholas
- The best known story is of St. Nicholas helping a man who could not afford the dowries for his 3 daughters. St. Nicholas secretly left the money they needed by throwing it through the window. This story led to a tradition of giving gifts on his feast day.
Ways to celebrate St. Nicholas’ life:
- Have children leave their shoes out for St. Nicholas on December 5th and put little treats for them to discover inside. Some traditional treats include: Oranges or Apples and Chocolate Coins, but we’ll be including a Shining Light Doll in our girls shoes this year, and I know a lot of families like to give socks or books as gifts on St. Nicholas day too!
- Come up with ways to help your neighbors without them noticing (a nice anonymous note in their mailbox, drop off store bought goodies,) make it a game to be secret like St. Nicholas.
- Make Speculaas cookies! These are traditionally made in the Netherlands and neighboring countries to celebrate St. Nicholas Day and are typically in the shape of St. Nicholas and either left plain or decorated with white icing. This year I'm planning to make them using cookie cutters from Catholic Currio!
December 12: OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
Patron of: the Americas
A little bit about Our Lady of Guadalupe:
- Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego outside Mexico City in the 16th century. He was instructed to go to the bishop and build a chapel on the hill they were standing on (Tepeyac). The bishop demanded a sign, so Mary told Juan to pick some roses and bring them to the bishop. Juan did so, carrying the roses in his tilma. When he arrived he dropped the tilma to reveal the rare flowers, but the bishop was more amazed by the perfect depiction of Our Lady that was on the tilma.
Ways to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe:
- Bring roses to Mary
- Decorate your own tilma (or shirt/sweater/smock/etc)
- Since Our Lady appeared in Mexico we love celebrating with mexican food (either something we make ourselves, or supporting one of the local Mexican restaurants) and then reading the story of Our Lady appearing to Juan Diego before bed.
- Pray the prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe during the time of the coronavirus.
December 13: ST. LUCY
Patron of: Blindness
A little bit about St. Lucy:
- There are a lot of myths around St. Lucy but the common thread is that she was a Catholic and a virgin who refused to be married to anyone because she had consecrated herself to God and was martyred.
- Some stories say she brought food to Catholics hiding in the catacombs. In order to carry more food, St. Lucy fashioned a wreath on her head to hold the candles that lit her way. This image was particularly meaningful when her story spread to Sweden. It became traditional for the eldest daughter to don a white dress (symbolic of purity) and a wreath with candles and bring food to the other members of her family.
Ways to celebrate St. Lucy’s life:
- Have a family baking day. Everyone must give their baked good to another family member. We love to bake the traditional St. Lucy buns or cinnamon rolls shaped like St. Lucy buns (we love cinnamon rolls at our house!)!
- Create a crown with candles out of felt or construction paper.
- Continue the Sweedish tradition and have the eldest daughter bring food to the family while wearing your homemade crowns!
- Bring food to your parish or local food pantry to feed the hungry.
December 25: CHRISTMAS DAY
A little bit about Christmas:
- Jesus was born. Pretty big deal!
Ways that our family loves to celebrate Christmas Day:
- Christmas Mass - growing up we always went to the children’s Mass, but lately we’ve been going on Christmas morning. When does your family typically go to Mass for Christmas?
- Growing up my mom always made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, this is a tradition that I love to share with my girls!
- Gift exchange, so my husband and I get gifts for our girls and each other, but one tradition that we carry on with our extended families is to do secret santas. I know this is something that families with older kids do among themselves, but we aren’t quite there yet with our own crew.
- Reading the story of Christmas to our girls and talking about what a big deal it is that God became human!
December 26: ST. STEPHEN
Patron of: Deacons, Altar Servers, Bricklayers, Stonemasons, Casket Makers
A little bit about St. Stephen:
- Stephen was one of the first deacons ordained in the church. He was known for his great preaching and has many miracles attributed to him during his lifetime.
- Stephen was also one of the first martyrs. His story is recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.
- He was called upon to debate with the Jews in the synagogue. They could not win an argument against him. Growing angry, the Jews had him charged with blasphemy. They threw him out of the city and stoned him. As he was dying he saw Heaven and Jesus welcoming him.
Ways to celebrate St. Stephen’s life:
- Read the story of St. Stephen’s life and talk about how exciting Heaven is and how our hope for Heaven helps us endure any hardship on Earth.
- St. Stephen’s Day is celebrated particularly in Ireland where traditionally they would spend the day visiting family and friends, maybe this year you can celebrate by planning to spend time talking to family or friends who you haven’t spoken to in a while.
December 27: FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY
A little bit about the feast of the Holy Family:
- This feast was formally added to the church calendar in 1921 under Pope Benedict XV. Originally it was on the Sunday after Epiphany, but was moved within the Christmas season in 1969. Source.
- The Feast of the Holy Family shows us the family we should all strive to be. The perfect mother, father, and child.
Ways to celebrate the Holy Family
- Color in a coloring page of the Holy Family.
- Eat dinner together as a family.
- Reflect on the lives of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. While we do not need to completely imitate their lives (guys, you don’t need to be carpenters) there are many things we can learn from them. Mary’s faith and hope that saw her through uncertainty and pain, Joseph’s quiet acceptance of God’s will, and Jesus’ obedience to his parents.
Are you as excited for Advent and Christmas as we are at out house? What is your favorite feast to celebrate in this season?
Unless linked otherwise sources for specific information is from Catholic Online.