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How to Create Simple Meaningful Advent Rituals

Updated: Nov 26, 2022

Close up of two candles sketched in pencil
Sketch by Sydney Zylstra

Last year around this time I had BIG plans for an advent art project. I wanted to create an advent calendar to honor those I had lost. I had visions of making a calendar with opening paper doors like the ones with chocolate. And I wanted elaborate art of my family to help me feel connected to them even though my father, mother, and sister had passed away.

My plans were grand. Too grand. I got stuck and didn't even get going the first week of advent.

Finally, one of the many wise women in my life suggested that I keep it simpler. That I use the calendar I had given to my sister Mary before she died. Then I could just sketch a memory each day--something meaningful to me.

For added ritual, I also got a candle with three wicks. By the time I'd figured all this out most of the first week of Advent was over.

On the second week of advent, I lit one wick each day as I sketched and thought about my dad.

I lit two wicks the third week when I added memories of my mom.

On the fourth week, I sketched and made notes on memories of my sister.

I drew in each day quickly and in pencil. It was exactly what I needed to add meaning and spend time with my loved ones in the early hours when I do such things.

The year before, I did something similar when I adapted an advent handout and worked through family photos, sketching them into a frame to make the art my own.

I have not yet decided what to do this year. Partly to help myself, I made a PDF guide to help you create your own advent practice this year. It includes steps and a few photo samples of what I did. You can sign up for it here on my home page and I'll mail it to you.

Advent starts on November 27th in 2022. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you find meaning and light and that you find your way with simplicity in ways that have meaning for you. Like the daily physical practice of yoga or any other long-lasting adventure, these things work best when we hold them loosely and let go of grand plans.

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