Ever since our oldest children were very little, we have been implementing an old monastic custom in our home by providing special treats, representing each of the “O Antiphons” on the days leading up to Christmas. 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.
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.
Each night, following 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.
The “treats” have varied from year to year. Some years it has been little gifts or activities for the family, some years it is all food related, and some years it is a mix of both, depending on our schedule and budget. It doesn’t need to cost much! Sometimes the treats are a bit of a stretch, but my goal is try and find gifts that will either help increase our faith (Catechism books, holy family, saints, prayer, etc) or encourage family time (games, puzzles, going to look at Christmas lights, etc). You can find some of our past O Antiphon treats by scrolling through the archives and visiting Catholic Cuisine.
Our family loves this tradition. 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.
This year I am hosting an O ANTIPHON GIVEAWAY! One lucky visitor here at Shower of Roses will receive a gift package which will include one complete set of O Antiphon Ornaments and one themed gift for each of the seven O Antiphons! Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.
sponsored by St. Augustine Academy Press
“This is perhaps the most beautiful book we have come across in a long time, and it was a labor of love to reprint it for you. Each lavishly illustrated page is mesmerizing in its detail but even more so for its love of the beauty of our Faith. Printed in a deep, rich brown ink on cream paper, with a cloth hardcover and dimensional gold embossing, this is a book that will make you feel proud to be Catholic. Preorder yours today and save–this will make the perfect Christmas gift–even for those who already know their alphabet quite well.”
- Bible Cookies
- Brain Food (Dark Chocolate, Deviled Eggs)
- Play a Trivia Game (Christmas Trivia, Catholic Trivia, Cranium)
- Play Scattergories-Catholic Edition
- Bookmarks or Holy Cards (order customized Holy Cards from Keepsakes by Carrie)
- Family Prayer Book, Catechism, or other Book (The Catechism in Pictures with review here, Jesus Make Me Worthy, My Catholic Faith, A Catholic Child’s Picture Dictionary, Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints, or even incorporate the Doctors of the Church like the St. Therese Picture Books including the new Flowers for Jesus from Peanut Butter & Grace, etc… The possibilities are endless.)
- Ten Commandment Cookies
- Cookies made with this Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter or this cute 3-D Mini Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter made by Sweet Creations, emphasizing the word “house”
- Roast Marshmallows, in reference to “Moses in the burning bush”
- Decorate Gingerbread Houses (we might use this pan this year, a Christmas gift from my girls)
- Forest Nativity Shaped Puzzle (shaped like house) or Stained Glass Holy Night
- Building Blocks would also tie in nicely… I love these Architecture Blocks. I just purchased a set to give our soon-to-be five year old.
sponsored by Sacred Heart Books & Gifts
- Root Beer Floats or Carrot Cake
- Roasted Root Vegetable, Hearty Healing Beef Stew or Hamburger Stew (pictured)… Yum!
- Purchase a Christmas Poinsettia (In the past we have also incorporated other Poinsettias: 12 Red Glitter Poinsettia Ornaments, Miracle of the Poinsettia, The Miracle of the First Poinsettia and Poinsettia Cupcakes)
- Play some sort of Gardening or Nature Game as a Family (perhaps Gathering a Garden, Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game — we don’t have either of these but they sound interesting– or The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game which is on our little ones’ wish list)
- “My Family” set from Naturally Catholic or something else Family related
- Old Fashioned Root Beer Drops
(Duplicates of a couple we already have. Hope the winner likes them as much as we do!)
- Key Lime Pie
- Special drink with dinner. 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.
- Surprise the family with tickets to something local – Christmas play, the Nutcracker, etc. A Couple years ago I took our older children to see A Christmas Carol at the theatre.
- Key Puzzle/Brainteaser
- Tiny Saints Key Hooks (One year I purchased a couple key hook rails to use to hang our Rosaries. You can see them in our home in this post.)
- Advent or Christmas CD (There’s keys in music 😉 – The new Christmastime in New Orleans CD and TV Special DVD would be fun too!)
- O Dayspring Ice Cream
- Non-Alcoholic Mimosas or Texas Sunrise with Breakfast
- Decorate a Christmas Candle (We use a tiny wax baby Jesus I purchased years ago along with Stockmar Gold Decorating Beeswax.)
- Our favorite tradition for this O Antiphon is to pile in the car after dinner with hot cocoa and drive around to look at all the Christmas lights. We have also added these to our tree: Kurt Adler 10-Light Candle with Gold Dish Light Set
- Candles from The Cloister Shoppe
- Grimm’s CASA SOLE Stacking Blocks (The set we have, pictured, isn’t currently available. Other options can be found online and over at Etsy.)
sponsored by St. Augustine Academy Press
- Crown Cake, Cupcakes or Cookies
- Holiday Wreaths (We made these on back in December 2009.)
- Assemble a Three Kings Puzzle and this beautiful Stained Glass Nativity Puzzle
- Listen to King of the Golden City CD
- One year I picked out one of the beautiful sets of Three Kings Gifts – we pull it out every Christmas!
- Nativity Puzzle Flipzles (flip the puzzle pieces over for a complete nativity scene!) or add a “King” puppet or toy to our collection. The Christ the King Blessing Block is perfect too.
sponsored by Catholic Child
- Make a Chocolate Nativity Scene for Christmas
- Decorate Nativity Cookies to give as gifts or Cookie Cutters Tell the Christmas Story
- 500-Piece Stained Glass Jigsaw Puzzle or Holy Family Puzzle
- Decorate Chocolate Christmas Coins using this FREE Printable
- Children’s Nativity Set – you can see our collection here (scroll down a bit)
- Holy Cards, Coloring Books, including the beautiful Eucharistic Adoration: With Saints And Symbols Of The Eucharist Coloring book, or this BRAND NEW RELEASE from St. Augustine Academy Press: Catholic Songs for Children (Includes two new songs that have not been heard since the 1960’s: “The Best Christmas Present of All” and “I Want To Be a Little Missionary.”)