Ever since our oldest children were very little, we have been implementing an old monastic custom in our home of providing special treats, representing each of the “O Antiphons,” on the days leading up to Christmas. Each night, after our family rosary, we pray the O Antiphon for the day, sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel (which was inspired by this ancient tradition), and then give the children a special treat. Some years it has been little gifts for the family, some years it is all food related, and some years it is a mix of both. You can see some of my past posts from 2007-2011 by scrolling through the archives and visiting Catholic Cuisine.
The picture above is from last year, but I have this year’s gifts set aside or ordered, and I plan to wrap them soon (in gold wrapping paper for these “Golden Nights”), attaching the various O Antiphon Ornaments from Jesse Tree Treasures to each package. We’ll pull out our O Antiphon House and (since I don’t have any plans to deliver a baby this Advent!) I will probably include some extra treats at mealtimes as well.
The Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.
The O Antiphon Prayers begin on December 17th and end on the 23rd, which is the last Vespers of Advent, since the evening prayer on the 24th is the Vigil of Christmas. Our family just loves this little tradition, and it is such a fun way to teach the children about these beautiful prayers of the church and also increase their excitement as Christmas gets closer! Here are the treats that I choose for this year:
Since the symbol for wisdom is a book, I often choose a new Catholic Book for our family. This year I happened to run across this beautifully illustrated book at our local Catholic Book Store. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion and plan to wrap it up for the first of the O Antiphons this year!
In past years we have given the children Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints, the beautiful A Catholic Child’s Picture Dictionar, Novena: The Power of Prayer, new children’s prayer books for Mass, and a craft kit to make Christmas Bookmarks.
We usually emphasize the word “house” in this Antiphon, and have made our Gingerbread Houses or Gingerbread Cookies on this night. We have given the kids a fun new Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter, Gingerbread Houses and Mini Village Kits. We have also roasted marshmallows over a fire, drawing from the reference to “Moses in the burning bush.”
This year I totally am streaching it and giving the kids the Little House on the Prairie DVD. My husband had bought it for me when it first came out (it was $29 back then and now it’s only $4.99!!) and we all enjoyed it so much! Years ago we lost one of the (two) DVD’s and it’s just not the same watching only half the movie. The kids are going to be so excited!
I couldn’t decide between this set of 12 Red Glitter Poinsettia Ornaments and Miracle of the Poinsettia, so I ended up purchasing both (and wrapping them together) for this year’s O Root of Jesse Antiphon gift.
In the past I have purchased our Poinsettia Plant for Christmas, new books including The Legend of the Poinsettia and The Miracle of the First Poinsettia, baked Poinsettia Cupcakes, made recipes with root vegetables including Hearty Beef Stew and Carrot Cake, given the kids Old Fashioned Root Beer Drops or served Root Beer.
Since this is initially a monastic tradition, and on this night, the monk in charge of the wine cellar would provide a special bottle of wine. We usually always serve a special drink with dinner. Sometimes I also serve a Key Lime Pie as well! Last year I purchased a couple key hook rails from Target to use to hang our Rosaries!
I love wooden stacking toys!!! And I think the kids do too! 😉 We already have the Rainbow, Fire, Water Waves, Stone Cave, and the Little Flower Wooden Stacker. Rose will be receiving the Wooden Fairy Tale Village and Bud will be receiving the Stacking Birds for either Christmas or on their birthdays! When I ran across this set of blocks, I immediately thought it would be a perfect gift for this O Antiphon!
Other past ideas include a surprise trip to town (complete with mugs of Cocoa) to view Christmas Lights, decorating our own house or tree with Christmas lights, eating “O Dayspring Ice Cream,” and adding the Kurt Adler 10-Light Candle with Gold Dish Light Set to our Christmas Tree!
.: December 23rd :.
For the last of this year’s O Antiphons I ended up purchasing the beautiful 500-Piece Stained Glass Jigsaw Puzzle.
In the past the children have been given special Holy Cards or Coloring Books, including the beautiful Eucharistic Adoration: With Saints And Symbols Of The Eucharist Coloring book, added various Children’s Nativity Sets to our collection, made a Chocolate Nativity Scene, and received the Holy Family Puzzle with a lovely embroidered Mass bag from Catholic Embroidery.